More than 2,000 sailors, shipowners and ship managers participated in a march here Wednesday to express concern over growing incidents of piracy.
‘We are all very deeply concerned due to the increasing frequency of incidents of hijacking of merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, which is now rapidly spreading to the Arabian sea, Indian coast and the Indian ocean,’ said Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI).
As per estimates by various seafarers’ organisations, more than 50 Indian sailors have been taken as hostage by Somali pirates. ‘These seafarers are living under sub-human conditions in captivity of the hijackers for months together till their ransom is paid,’ Serang said.
He added that it was high time that the central government intervened in the matter.
‘Shipowners and seafarers have been left to fend for themselves without any worldwide government support. It is the responsibility of every sovereign state to provide a safe and secure environment to the seafarers who are discharging their professional duties in the high seas,’ he said.
He mentioned the recent incident of merchant vessel MSV Asphalt Venture, wherein seven Indian crew members were not released even after the ransom was paid.
‘This is an unprecedented situation, raising serious questions. It is also affecting trade and endangering the lives of the innocent seafarers,’ Serang said.
Serang also pointed out that the matter can only be addressed effectively at the level of the United Nations.
Director General of Shipping S.B. Agnihotri received petitions from several organisations representing seafarers, ship owners and ship managers, including NUSI, Maritime Union of India (MUI), Indian National Ship Owners’ Association (INSA), Foreign Owners Representative and Ship Managers Association (FOSMA) and Maritime Association of Ship Owners, Ship Managers and Agents (MASSA).
He assured them that the matter will be taken up with higher authorities.
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