After a four-year captivity in which he took continuous torture from Somali pirates and saw them kill one of his colleagues, Kangra sailor Aman Sharma, 23, will be home.
He is among the 11 sailors, including seven Bangladeshis, an Iranian, and two Sri Lankans, whom the pirates freed on Saturday after former British army colonel John Steed negotiated their release. Aman Sharma of Kardial village in Jawali subdivision of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh was among the crew of 23 held by the African pirates of Somalia since November 16, 2010, when their ship, MV Albedo of Malaysian company Majestic Enrich, was hijacked 293 miles west of Maldives in the Indian Ocean on way to Kenya from Dubai.
Six months later, the pirates made him call up his family. Since then, his father, retired solider Kewal Krishan Sharma, has knocked at every door in the state and central corridors of power for his release. During captivity, the pirates killed Kolkata sailor Raju Prasad, while four others drowned.
In 2012, they released seven Pakistanis in the crew after their country paid the ransom the shipping company had declined to pay. During the captivity, the hostages were denied food for days. MV Albedo sank last year in rough seas.
Kangra youth organisation Prayukti ran a campaign for the release of Aman Sharma and even moved the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, UK lawyer Jas Uppal reported the matter to the United Nations (UN). "The details of the release are unavailable but it seems the UN intervened and no ransom was paid," said Prayukti chairman Pranav Ghabroo.
"Some people said I was fighting a lost cause but I was confident my son would be back," said Kewal Krishan Sharma, thanking all who campaigned for Aman's safe release. He is off to Mumbai to bring him home. Aman is believed to have reached Nairobi in Kenya and, by June 11, will be on the Indian shore.