New Delhi: Most of the 28 Indian seafarers rescued from Somali pirates after their vessels were hijacked in 2012 are returning to India on Monday. Seventeen Indian seafarers on board the MT Royal Grace have been in captivity of pirates since March 2, 2012 and 11 Indian seafarers on board MT Smyrni were in captivity since May 10, 2012. While most of the seafarers are to return to India on Monday, some of those rescued from MT Royal Grace await the arrival of a replacement crew before they can fly back to their families in India, official sources said on Sunday. They said the MT Royal Grace had reached Salalah port in Muscat on March 13 and MT Smyrni docked there the next day.
Both the ships were received by officials of the Indian Embassy in Oman. Indian embassy officials had arranged for doctors to conduct medical checkup and provide necessary assistance to a few who needed assistance. All crew members were provided new clothing, toiletries and shoes by the Embassy and were provided opportunities to speak with their family members.
Passports, where required, exit permits from Omani authorities and necessary ticketing arrangements have been made by the Embassy of India in Muscat, they said. The government has been working assiduously to ensure release of Indian nationals in captivity of pirates and had been pursuing the matter at various levels and in different countries, they said. They, however, did not divulge details of how the government managed to secure their release.
The return of the sailors is being seen as a significant milestone in India's war against piracy.
The return of these seafarers is a significant milestone in the war against piracy, official sources said, adding the government was committed to secure release of all its nationals including the seven on MT Asphalt Venture and one on MV Al Bedo.