India working for speedy release of cargo vessel crew detained in Nigeria: EAM | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India working for speedy release of cargo vessel crew detained in Nigeria: EAM

Dec 08, 2022 05:35 PM IST

The Indian government has been engaged with relevant authorities through the missions in Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria since August for the release of the detained crew members

India has sought the help of Nigerian authorities to complete the legal process for the speedy release of 16 Indian crew members of a cargo vessel who have been detained since August, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar in the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament. (ANI Photo)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar in the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament. (ANI Photo)

The 26-member crew of the Norwegian-flagged ship MT Heroic Idun was detained by a naval ship in international waters on August 12. Since then, the crew members, including the 16 Indians, have repeatedly called on authorities in their home countries to help free them.

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The ship was detained by the Equatorial Guinean Navy based on a request from Nigeria. After being held in Equatorial Guinea for some time, the crew members were taken to Nigeria.

Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Jaishankar said in a statement that the Indian mission in Abuja has sought the assistance of Nigerian authorities and “through legal means for expeditious finalisation of the legal process for the early release of the Indian crew members”.

Also Read:‘In touch with authorities’: Indian mission on 16 sailors detained in Africa

According to a charge sheet filed by the Nigerian side in court on November 14, three charges were levelled against the 26 crew members, including conspiracy, evasion of lawful interception and unlawful export of crude oil.

The Indian government has been engaged with relevant authorities through the missions in Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria since August. The Indian side is also in touch with OSM Shipping Company, which operates the vessel. Besides the Indian nationals, the crew includes citizens of Poland, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

“Our mission in Abuja is extending all consular services to ensure the safety and welfare of the Indian crew members aboard the vessel MT Heroic Idun and working towards their early release,” Jaishankar said.

The Indian envoy in Abuja has met the Indian crew members and the Indian side has taken steps to ensure that the detained men are not unjustly treated and have the ability to communicate with their families, Jaishankar also told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday while responding to questions from lawmakers.

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