Pak rights activist saviour of Jammu sailor
Jammu, June 14: Emotional bonds of people living on either side of Indo-Pak border are still intact and it came true when a Pakistani emerged as saviour of six Indian sailors, including one from Jammu, after he secured their release from the captivity of Somali pirates.’
Madhu Sharma of Bari Brahmana, whose husband Narotam Kumar Sharma, 37, was among six Indian sailors, attributed Sharma’s release to Pakistan-based right activist Ansar Burney while blaming the Government of India for being least bothered about the lives of its own people.
The Indian government, however, refused to confirm if a Pakistani rights activist had a role in obtaining the freedom of its sailors.
For exhausted but elated Madhu, 10-month-long ordeal came to an end when she got a call from her husband on Monday, telling her that he was being released by the Somalian pirates. He told her that they were being released due to the efforts of a Pakistan human right activist.
It was Ansar Burney who was in touch with the Somalian pirates and had promised the families of the Indian sailors at New Delhi in February that he would leave no stone unturned to seek the release of Indian sailors from the captivity of the pirates.
Madhu’s husband, who works as third engineer at MV Suez merchant vessel, was among the six sailors, part of a 22-member crew of Egyptian merchant vessel MV Suez which was hijacked by Somalian Pirates in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010.
They were released after ransom was paid for their freedom by the ship owners and Ansar Burney’s Trust.
“I talked to my husband in the morning and he said that the pirates have released him and other crew members on late Monday evening,” she remarked while expressing her happiness over the release of her husband.
Madhu went on saying, “The ransom amount of 4 million dollars was arranged by Ansar Burney Trust and the owners of the Egyptian vessel. After ransom was paid to pirates my husband and others were released. I am thankful to Ansar Burney who despite being from Pakistan ensured that Indian crew members are released.”
“We had lost all hopes as the Indian government had turned stoic and mute spectator to our ordeals. We ran from pillar to post in New Delhi and even met the Prime Minister and other top leaders of all political parties but all in vain. No one came forward to help us,” she added.
“I cried for whole day when the owner of the ship refused to pay the ransom in February. At that point of time, I thought everything is finished now and I will not be able to see my husband again,” she recalled.
Madhu said that it was the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who intervened and arranged the meeting of kin of Indian sailors with the Prime Minister.
Madhu had not told her two children Nikhil, 10, and Nandita,6, about their father’s abduction by Somalian Pirates. She was telling them that their father is on duty and would return soon.
“Yesterday, I told them the truth and they are happy that their father is returning home after 10 months,” she said, adding “These 10-months were a nightmare for our entire family.” Agencies add: The released sailors are expected to return home in the coming days. The release reportedly materialized after continuous efforts of Ansar Burney Trust run by a former Pakistani federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney.
Apart from the six Indians, the 22 hostages that had been taken included 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan. The Indians include two from Haryana and one each from Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir. One of the Indians is from Mumbai.
The Indian sailors who remained in pirates’ captivity are N K Sharma from Jammu, Ravinder Gulia from Haryana, Prashant Chauhan from Simla and Satnam Singh, whose nativity has not been ascertained.
‘We are very thankful to Ansar Burney and Pakistan government for their help. They have paid a ransom to the pirates to make this release possible. Burney was negotiating with the pirates for the last few months,’ Sampa Arya, wife of Ravinder Gulia, 30, one of the hostages and resident of Haryana’s Rohtak town, told reporters in Chandigarh.
‘I have talked to my husband over the phone. He said that they have been released and all of them are in good health. They will reach India in the next few days,’ she added.
Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna welcomed the release of the Indian sailors.
‘We are happy they (Indian sailors) have been released and the ship is now moving out,’ Krishna told reporters here.
Parrying a query on whether Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney had secured the release of the Indians from pirates’ captivity, Krishna said: ‘Let us not get into a speculative analysis on who is behind it and who is provoking it.’
The family members of the hostages had met many senior Indian politicians to secure their release but all their efforts went in a vain.
‘Burney had raised funds with the help of the Pakistan government. Here, the Indian government has let us down. We met many leaders but nobody helped us. They said paying ransom is not the right way. I have lost all my faith in Indian politicians,’ stated Arya.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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