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Merchant Navy Officers to go on agitation

world Updated: Jan 01, 2009 22:56 IST
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The Merchant Navy Officers Welfare Association (MNOWA) has decided to go on agitation alongwith other organisations seeking release of Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan who have been lodged in a Korean Jail in connection with the 'Hebei Spirit' oil spill case.

Speaking to mediapersons in Kochi on Thursday, KA Shihabuddin, Joint Secretary of MNOWA and Capt K S Biju, Organising Committee convener, said memorandums had already been sent to the Korean Government, Union External Affairs Minister, Shipping minister and to the authorities of Samsung, urging their release.

As part of their agitation, a vehicle rally will be taken from the nearby Willingdon Island to Marine Drive on January three, to express solidarity with Chawla and Chetan. They would later give a call for boycotting Korean products, he said.

During December 2007 the tanker 'Hebei Spirit' was anchored in the designated safe anchorage area in South Korea. It was struck by a tug towed crane barge, owned by Samsung Heavy Industries, resulting in an oil spill.

Of the 2.60 lakh tonnes oil, which the ship was carrying, only 10,800 tonnes leaked and rest of the oil was soon shifted to other tanks, preventing a major disaster, he said.

He said Chawla and Chetan, who deserved kudos for averting a major disaster, were, however, detained since December 2007.

Though the two were released by a court in June last year,the matter went into appeal and Chawla and Chetan were sentenced to 18 months and eight months imprisonment respectively.

The Indian seafarers were handcuffed and paraded in blatant disregard of all human rights, which had invited world wide condemnation by various organisations, he said.