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Updated: May 14, 2013 01:49 IST

Waiting for their long-lost son

J. S. Bablu
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Benson T.
Benson T.

Benson, a sailor, and others were lost at sea near Pakistan

As a new government takes over in Pakistan, a ray of hope glimmers in the minds of Thomas Thommi (72) and his wife Annamma Thomas (63) of finding some information about their son, Benson T. (then 25), who was lost in the seas while working in a ship nearly 14 years.

According to Mr. Thommi of Narakathara house in Vyshyambhagam in Nedumudi in the district, it was on June 8, 1998 that the MV Golden Harvest ship of the Sharjah-based Marvan Shipping and Trading Company, bound for Kandla port in Gujarat from Aqaba in Jordan was caught in strong winds and drifted away. Mr. Thommi’s son Benson, was an oiler in the ship.

Mr.Thommi believes that the ship might have landed in Pakistan, as it has not reached the possible destinations of Kandla or other ports in Gujarat nor in Mumbai. “The only other possibility is that the ship might have drifted into the seas near Pakistan. The Pakistani authorities might have arrested the crew members including my son and he might be languishing in a Pakistan jail,” he said.

There were 24 staff in the ship including 11 Indians. Of the 11 Indians, two were Keralites. Madhusoodanan, a native of Cherthala who had settled in Mumbai was the other Keralite.

Mr. Thommi said that he had petitioned various authorities including those in the External Affairs Ministry in 1998. They had reportedly told him that it was difficult for them to get any information as Pakistan was then not a democratic country.

“Last time I saw the authorities was on November 9, 2012 when I met Defence Minister A. K. Antony and Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi. The company had only informed me after the incident that the ship and their son was missing. I later heard that the company got the insurance amount and had even closed down its office in Sharjah,” he said.

The worst affected was Annnamma, the mother of Benson, who often feels depressed thinking about her son.

Annamma remembers that her son had come home once, a month before he went missing when the ship was anchored at Tuticorin.

“We had made extensive inquiries on the coasts of Gujarat and Mumbai. However, those inquiries elicited nothing,” Mr. Thommi said.

The lack of information on the whereabouts of his only son among his four children, leaves even Mr. Thommi, a retired military nurse, in a state of depression. He still hopes that the new democratic dispensation in Pakistan will share some information about his son, if he is in Pakistan.

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