Lost, forgotten seamen of Jupiter 6
On September 5, 2005, the Jupiter 6, a trawler with 13 hands on board, disappeared mysteriously off the coast of Namibia after leaving Port Elizabeth. Nandini Iyer reports.india Updated: Oct 01, 2008 01:08 IST
It’s been a much longer wait for families of other lost, forgotten Indian seamen.
The families of ten other missing seamen have waited three years for their return — and help from the government. On September 5, 2005, the Jupiter 6, a trawler with 13 hands on board, disappeared mysteriously off the coast of Namibia after leaving Port Elizabeth.
Nothing is known of its whereabouts to this day.
Thursday is Id. On the last day of a month of fasting, 23-year-old Sabiha Saikage will be praying to God her husband Hassan Saikage returns. Hassan was on board the Jupiter 6 when it vanished. The couple had spent less than a month together after their marriage when he went to sea.
In Hissar, 22-year-old Suman Sharma has resolutely resisted all suggestions that she get married. Her fiancé Rajkumar Sharma was a young officer on Jupiter 6. His father Captain O P Sharma, a former Indian Navy officer, says “I have told her and her parents that she is free to marry someone else but this girl says she will wait for my son. That’s the only thing which keeps our hopes alive.”
All three families despair of any help from the Indian government or the firm that owns the ship – Pelican Marine.
Captain Sharma says “I’ve written to everyone, the Prime Minister, the President, the Vice-President, the Chief Minister of Haryana, the Defence Minister … Not one person has even replied, let alone helped.”
The former Navy officer is sure his son’s ship was hijacked. “Jupiter 6 was reported missing on 5 September 2005. On 8 October, the scrap vessel was found. On 10 October, my son’s ship emanated emergency alarms. If it had sunk on 5 September, the alarms would have come up the same day,” says Captain Sharma.
The company just says they are looking for the ship, says Saikage. “That’s why we went to the Supreme Court, because no one has given us any information,” she says.
According to Manoj Joy of the Chennai-based Sailor’s Helpline, both the Indian government and firms that own merchant vessels or trawlers accord “step-motherly treatment to our sailors.”