Seven Indian sailors kidnapped by Somali pirates more than four years ago were freed on Thursday, in a move which Indian seafarers term as historical. ‘MV Ashpalt,’ the Panamanian vessel with a crew of 15, was hijacked by Somali pirates in September of 2010. The ship and eight of the crew were released on April 16, 2011 but seven Indian sailors were held captive by the pirates as their ransom demand was not met.
On Thursday it was declared that the sailors were released in Harardhere, a coastal town north of Mogadishu, and were flown to the capital. “The seven Indian sailors, among them a captain, were held hostage by pirates near Harardhere for four years,” area governor Hussein Ali Weheliye Irfo said.
“They have suffered hardships both mentally and physically but they are finally free, thanks to the Somali government and other external actors,” he added.
The last release of a person held captive on land by these pirates was in the late 1999s when one Alphonse Jagan from Uveri in Tuticorin was released after six months. One of the sailors who were released on Thursday is Danishtan Fernando of Punnaikayal, which is also Vimalson’s village. “His father Fernando received the salary from the ship’s company till Sept last year and after the ship was sold the salary also stopped coming,” he said.
The sailors who are in Kenya would be given three to four days to get psychologically adjusted before returning home, Vimalson said. “We laud the efforts of the Indian government in bringing them back,” he added.