Release Somali captives, pirates reiterate


It seems that there is no respite to the worries of the Indian mariners held hostage by the Somali pirates.

A set of conditions has been given by the pirates for the release of the Indian hostages, giving a clear indication that the process will be delayed further.

In a letter sent to OMCI Ship Management, the pirates have reiterated the release of the Somali pirates detained in India as a condition for releasing the seven Indian seafarers. The Somali natives lodged in Indian jails are just fishermen and not pirates, they said.

“We want our fishermen back home and after that the Indian hostages will be released as well,” a letter sent by the Somali pirates to OMCI Ship Management Pvt Ltd stated.
The company handed over the letter to Shobha Krishnan, from Mallappally, Pathanamthitta, who approached the Kerala High Court seeking the immediate release of her husband T B Unnikrishnan, second officer of the vessel MT Asphalt Venture, which was hijacked by the Somali pirates on September 28, 2010. The pirates are sticking to their earlier stand.

“First of all, we are not hostile to India and its people. Our demand has been clear before and is also clear now. We want our fishermen back home. Why we targeted the Indian crew is because the Indian Navy has illegally captured our boys who were poor fishermen. We are targeting only the Indian sailors and we will not detain the crew belonging to other nationalities.” The email communication was sent by a person named Mahammed Xasan to the shipping company. The company had informed Shobha that it had handed over the letter to DG Shipping and has sought the advice from the Central Government. Shobha will submit the letter before the Kerala High Court. She had sought a directive from the High Court to the Ministry of External Affairs for taking effective steps to get the sailor released.

The crew members have been detained in Somalia. Though the ship and its eight crew members were released last April, Unnikrishnan is still under detention.

With the permission of the pirates, Unnikrishnan had called Sobha and informed her that his health was deteriorating. Though various representations were given to the competent authorities, Unnikrishnan’s release is getting delayed, she pointed out.


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