Family members of the Indian merchant navy officers held by Somali pirates have alleged that the government isn’t taking any initiative to get the hostages freed.
At a press conference held here on Sunday, the families said the pirates, in a telephonic conversation last week, had given them a week to arrange a ransom of $4 million (approximately R18 crore).
Madhu Sharma, wife of NK Sharma from Jammu, who is a crew member on MV Suez, said the owner of the company had expressed his inability to pay the ransom.
Five of the hostage merchant navy officers are onboard MV Suez, an Egyptian cargo ship and one officer is onboard MV Ice Berg cargo ship.
“Seven months have passed since the hostage. Despite repeated requests to the Centre, there seems to be no plan for freeing the officers,” said Pushpa Chauhan, mother of merchant navy officer Prashant Chauhan, 23, from Shimla. “They are getting food after two or three days,” she said. Sampa Arya, wife of MV Suez officer Ravinder S Gulia from Rohtak said the government was not taking the matter seriously. “Had the relative of any minister been among the hostages, there would have been a prompt reaction by the government,” she said.
Rigan Singh, brother of Jaswinder Singh, who was onboard MV Ice Berg, also complained that there seemed no solution in sight.
President of the Merchant Navy Officers Association, Chandigarh, Ajit Singh, charged the central government with not being sensitive on this issue. “According to an estimate, 136 Indians are in captivity of these pirates, some of them for more than 11 months,” he said.