New Delhi/Kollam: Concerted efforts for the release of the 16 Indian crew of a ship detained by the Navy of Guinea, a West African nation, are on. The detainees include three Keralites — two from Kochi and one from Kollam, the latter is reportedly the brother of Vismaya who committed suicide owing to dowry harassment in Kollam.
The Keralites are Kochi natives Sanu Joseph and Milton as well as late Vismaya's brother V Vijith, a native of Nilamel.
The External Affairs Ministry and the Embassy of India are currently holding talks with the concerned authorities, said V Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs.
“We hope to bring the crew to their homelands directly from Guinea. We have also held talks with the Government of Nigeria,” the minister added.
The Guinea Navy, however, indicated it would hand over the detainees to Nigeria.
Vijith told ‘Manorama’ that the crew members are worried about their safety as the Guinean Navy will hand them over to Nigeria any moment.
“It’s only an engine failure that is preventing them from handing over to the Nigerian authorities. We can’t predict how the law of that country treats us there. Every moment of delay in governmental intervention may cost our lives. We have already run out of medicines. Many have fallen ill due to various health issues and mental stress,” he said.
Earlier, Vijith’s father K Vikraman Nair had submitted a petition to Union Minister Muraleedharan, requesting measures on a war footing for the release of the detained crew. The total number of detainees is 26.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office assured Vijith's family that the state government would intervene and try to bring back the Keralites. State Minister J Chinchu Rani conveyed this when she called on the family on Sunday.
It was on August 8 that the Norway-based ship 'M T Heroic Idun' reached the AKPO offshore terminal in Nigeria to fill crude oil. The ship anchored on the international maritime boundary of Nigeria after they were informed of some delay due to technical issues. When they noticed an approaching boat, they moved toward the international maritime channel.
However, the Guinea Navy detained the ship and the crew the next day, suspecting that the vessel had arrived to steal oil.