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Updated: December 21, 2013 03:01 IST

After 5-month jail ordeal, a sailor walks to freedom

Staff Reporter
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Vijayan, who was imprisoned in the West African nation of Togo on a charge that he is yet to comprehend, never thought he would see his wife and children again.

Mr. Vijayan had tears of joy when on Friday he returned to the embrace of his dear ones after almost a five-month ordeal.

The Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery witnessed emotional scenes when Mr. Vijayan, who arrived here by an Air India flight from Delhi, walked to freedom and to the world of his loving family made up of his wife, Sajitha, and children, Rohit and Roshni.

Mr. Vijayan, a sailor on the ship MT Ocean Centurion, along with his captain Sunil James, was put behind the bars on July 31 on the charge of aiding pirates when they reportedly berthed at Togo to report an attack on their ship by pirates.

Memories of the time spent in the African prison make him shudder. Mr. Vijayan, resident of Kuthannur in Palakkad district, was not even allowed to contact his family back home over phone except on very rare occasions.

This was his first trip to Africa in his 25-year-long career as a sailor, as his trips were most often to America and Europe.

While he was grateful for the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office that made possible his release, Mr. Vijayan felt betrayed by the State government, which he alleged, did nothing to secure his release.

Mr. Vijayan said that his family had petitioned the Chief Minister and Union Ministers from the State. But they did not even bother to reply, he said. Mr. Vijayan believes he would have been able to walk free much earlier had someone intervened.

He had last come home in November 2012 and was planning to come back again on August 10 this year when he met with the worst experience of his life. He believes that he has been given a second lease of life.

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