• Sunday, February 05, 2023

Africa

Sixteen Indian sailors send SOS after getting detained in Africa’s Equatorial Guinea; India says doing its best to release

The stranded Indian sailors of MT Heroic Idun (Picture: Twitter screengrab/@sidhant)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Sixteen Indian sailors have flagged an SOS for help after getting stranded in the central-west African nation of Equatorial Guinea. They have been detained in the region for more than 80 days and fear arrest by the navy of Nigeria.

The crew have alleged that the detention is illegal and urged the authorities for help and release.

The Indian Embassy in Equatorial Guinea said earlier that officials were working in tandem with the authorities of both Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria for the early release of the sailors from MT Heroic Idun.

The Indian embassy said that authorities were monitoring the situation and a solution was not far.

“Since their detention in mid-August, this Mission has been in regular contact with the crew members over the phone. We have also had several consular access/visits to them. We are closely monitoring developments and are actively engaged for an early resolution of the issue,” the embassy said.

The embassy located in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, confirmed their intervention while replying to an Indian parliamentarian AA Rahim from the Rajya Sabha or Upper House of the parliament on Monday (7).

Rahim, a Left MP from the southern state of Kerala, called for urgent intervention to save the sailors in a letter written to foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He said the crew members were held in international waters and urged the foreign minister to ensure their “safe return”.

Rahim said that authorities in Equatorial Guinea had asked the owner of the ship, which was destined to pick up a shipment of oil, to pay a heavy fine and it was even paid.

He also alleged that the Indian crew members had not been ‘mistreated’ by African authorities.

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