Government today said it was making all efforts to seek the release of six Indian hostages on board an Egyptian cargo ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
Maintaining that the Shipping Ministry is the nodal authority in all cases involving Indians taken hostage by pirates, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the Director General of Shipping was pursuing all such cases.
“Owner of MV Suez, owned by an Egyptian company, had promised to take action to free hostages but nothing was done. The DG Shipping continues his efforts,” Ms. Rao twitted in the micro blogging website Twitter last night.
The Panama-flagged vessel was captured by the pirates on August 2 last year.
The ship’s crew includes four Pakistanis, six Indians, four Sri Lankans and 11 Egyptians.
The Somali pirates have reportedly demanded $ 4 million for release of the six Indians. The pirates on board the hijacked ship told Times Now that they were giving a week-long deadline for meeting their demand.
“Our demand is ransom money. We want $ 4 million.
Last time we called the company we demanded the ransom. He (owner) told us he did not want the ship or the crew. One week is the maximum time. I will not say what we are going to do next as we do not like talking to the media...,” one of the pirates said.
“Indian sailors are being tortured by the Somali pirates,” Ravindra Gula, one of the Indian sailors, said.
Another sailor N. K. Sharma, said he was appealing to the government to intervene and negotiate their release.
Mr. Gula’s wife said, “There has been no substantial action taken by the Indian government yet”.
A report from Islamabad on Sunday quoting a statement by leading Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney had said that the pirates had demanded a ransom of over $ 2 million for release of four Pakistani sailors.