Sindh Governor Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan and human rights activist Ansar Burney on Monday said 23 hostages — including six Indians — held captive by Somali pirates aboard the Egyptian vessel, m.v. Suez, for 10 months were released on payment of $ 2.5 million.
According to Mr. Burney, the ship had been released but was not in a position to move. He was hopeful of the hostages returning home within a week after an ordeal that began in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010.
While $ 1 million was coughed up by m.v. Suez — purportedly for the 11 Egyptians on board — the remaining amount was raised by the Ansar Burney Trust (ABT) after Rajya Sabha member K.D. Singh of the Trinamool Congress backed out from chipping in with the $ 5 lakh that he had initially volunteered.
Though upset with Mr. Singh's behaviour — thrice he made Mr. Burney travel to Dubai and once even the Governor for negotiations and on the promise that the money would be handed over there — the ABT took it upon itself to garner the resources to free all the captives.
Besides the 6 Indians, there were 5 Pakistanis and a Sri Lankan.
Admitting that there was opposition from some quarters to paying up for the Indians after the way Mr. Singh had behaved, Mr. Burney said this was not about nationalities but a humanitarian cause.
“We have not paid ransom, we have given humanitarian aid to the Egyptian shipping company to help it secure the lives of its employees.”