The 24 Thai and Myanmarese fishermen rescued on February 6 by Indian security forces from the hijacked fishing trawler, Prantalaya 11, after a 10-month ordeal can’t wait to get back home.
“We miss home. No one ever anticipates such an ordeal. Now that we are safe, we want to go back,” said Kithisak a 24-year-old hostage from Thailand.
Sirapob Nanon, the liaison officer from Thailand, said the hostages thought they would never return home. “They told me that ever since one of their fellow crew members in Prantalaya 11 was killed by the pirates, the other hostages were anxious of their safety,” Nanon said.
Nanon said the pirates demanded USD2 million (Rs 9 crore) in exchange for all the hostages on all the three trawlers, Prantalaya 11, 12 and 14, which they had hijacked. “But we didn’t have enough money to pay them. From then on, the pirates kept increasing the ransom. Their demand had increased up to USD9 million [Rs 40.5 crore],” he said.
The hostages said that the pirates killed a fellow crewmember and dumped his body in the cold storage unit of the trawler. “The pirates never beat them because they cooperated with them. But they were harsh in other ways,” Nanon said.
Sources in the Coast Guard said the hostages were made to perform their daily duties in the 10 months that they were held hostage.
“They continued to cook, clean and do their daily chores. However, the pirates would give them food only once a day and often even starve them,” a coast guard official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The Coast Guard official said they rescued Prantalaya 11 and 14 but Prantalaya 12 is still in the custody of pirates and is being used for illegal activity.