BANGALORE: Life has been a nightmare for Sharmistha Dutta, 26, for the past six months. She hasn’t heard from her father Shankar Dutta, captain of the tanker MT Royal Grace, since March 2 when Somali pirates hijacked the vessel.
“I last spoke to my father on Feb. 28. He told me he was leaving Dubai’s Sharjah port for Nigeria. On March 2, his vessel was hijacked from Oman and taken to Somalia,” Sharmistha, an HR professional with a private firm here, told TOI. “I lost my mother some time ago. I don’t have any siblings and my father is the only family I have,” she said.
Ex-serviceman Shankar Dutta, 60, originally from West Bengal, made Bangalore his home in 2004. Sharmistha, completed her graduation and post-graduation here. “While three hostages got in touch with their families, I’m yet to hear from my father. The vessel is without electricity after the diesel ran out in March. The hostages have managed without electricity in scorching heat and humidity and are on a diet of rice,” she added.
The family members of hostages say their letters to the external affairs minister SM Krishna and other politicians have not yielded any results. Sharmistha recently meet GK Vasan, minister of shipping, who assured her the government is working on a solution. But, she says a top official, also financial advisor and special secretary to transport, roadways and shipping, told her the government can’t give into ransom demands and she could at best put pressure on the vessel owners.
She’s a little hopeful after meeting BJP leader LK Advani and MP Ananth Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar in New Delhi on Thursday. “I along with six other families of hostages met leaders who immediately got us in touch with Parvez Dewan, secretary of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs. Dewan assured us the hostages will provided medical aid and better food,” she said.
“We couldn’t meet SM Krishna as he is currently touring abroad. But we hope to meet him when he’s back. But, I’m told he’s aware of the case and hope he does something so that families of hostages can get back their loved ones soon,” she added.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via timesofindia.indiatimes.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com