Released by Somali pirates after a seven-month-long ordeal, eight crew members of the hijacked ship M/T Asphalt Venture today returned to India.
Captain Ramesh Singh and seven sailors were released on April 15 by the pirates after reaching a deal with the owners of the vessel, which involved payment of an undisclosed ransom amount.
However, the pirates -- who were supposed to release all the 15 crew members -- allegedly backtracked and took seven crew members, including six officers, on-shore to Somalia.
The ship was released by the pirates. Those released waited on the vessel for their colleagues for a while before being escorted safely to the Kenyan port of Mombasa on April 28 with the help of Indian Navy, as staying in pirates-infested waters was not safe.
After a couple of days of rest, they flew to Mumbai in the wee hours today, a representative of the shipping company told PTI over phone.
"It is a wonderful feeling to be back home (and) to be reunited with our families...we remain deeply concerned that seven of our colleagues and friends remain in the hands of the criminal gang," Captain Singh was quoted as saying in an e-mailed statement. In the statement, Singh declined to give more details, saying he did not want to do anything which could compromise the safety of the remaining seven seamen.
The pirates backtracked and did not release the entire crew demanding the release of their acquaintances, who were arrested by Indian authorities on suspicion of indulging in piracy in the country's waters.