Relatives of a Varanasi marine engineer kidnapped by pirates near Nigeria on March 26 appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get him freed.
Santosh Kumar Bhardwaj, working as third engineer in Singapore-based shipping company Transocean Limited, was kidnapped along with four colleagues from different countries when their ship Sampatiki was at sea, around 30 nautical miles off Nigerian capital Lagos.
Father Virendra Prasad Thakur told Hindustan Times at the family’s Raj Tilak Nagar residence in Varanasi on Sunday that shipping company officials rang him up to inform about his son’s kidnap in one of the world’s worst piracy-scoured seas.
“The news shattered me. Anyhow, I mustered the courage and shared it with daughter-in-law Kanchan Kumari, who almost fainted. She recovered after half-an-hour. All of us are extremely worried. She skipped several meals last week. Santosh’s daughter cries often now,” he said.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj tried to console the family, tweeting in Hindi that “sister, please don’t skip you meals. I will spare no effort to free your husband”.
श्री संतोष भरद्वाज का अपहरण समुंद्री लुटेरों द्वारा किया गया है.@DineshMishraNBT— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 3, 2016
The family, naturally, is concerned about Santosh’s safety. “We are upset but have not lost hope,” Thakur said.
Their hope now rests on Prime Minister Modi, who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha.
“My son is in deep trouble. We simply know that pirates have kidnapped him. I hope the PM will understand the pain of a father, wife and daughter,” Thakur said.
Santosh’s wife, Kanchan, has written to the PM with an appeal to accelerate efforts to rescue her husband. “Please help us and get my husband freed. Hope, you will respond,” her letter reads.
She sent an email to the company as well, asking about her husband’s whereabouts.
The engineer was kidnapped along with two Ukrainians, a Dane, and a Pakistani man.