Parents of the 17 Indian sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates for the past nine months on Tuesday claimed that their nightlong vigil outside the Shipping Ministry and meetings with senior officials in the Indian government had not yet resulted in any concrete assurance about the possible release of their children.

K. Chandran, father of one of the sailors held hostage, said: “Nobody is ready to take the responsibility of negotiating and giving us an assurance that our children will be spared. We are terrified that we may not be able to see our children again with the pirates setting November 30 as the deadline to pay the ransom.”

Expressing deep concern over their anguish, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, while speaking to the media on Tuesday, said: “We have communicated to the parents that the situation is being watched very closely by the pirates and there is need to tread carefully. We should not send any message of weakness. It is our policy to not negotiate with pirates. This is a complicated subject with no easy solution. We will, however, stay in touch with the parents.”

Mr. Khurshid said the issue was brought before the MEA this September. “We had then taken the matter forward with the Nigerian officials and they had assured us that the issue will be looked into

.”

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