They are fond of Mumbai photographer who took care of them

When the five Pakistani sailors, who were rescued by the Indian Navy from Somali pirates, set out for their homeland from here on Monday morning, a photographer will miss them the most. They, in turn, will remember him fondly with a lot of gratitude.

“Of course, the Mumbai police did a lot for us. They treated us very well. But one person who took very good care of us was Parvez bhai. He bought us clothes, took care of us like we were his family,” Farhad Randhbaloch (24), one of the sailors, told The Hindu on Friday.

Photographer-cum-social worker Parvez Sheikh sat among them as they talked about their experience, at times reminding them of the minute details they had missed out. He seemed to have been with them during all important events.

The sailors also thanked actor Pooja Bhatt and film director Mahesh Bhatt for their efforts to help them. They also said they felt a deep sense of gratitude towards a local restaurant owner who fed them all these days.

Farhad, Lal Baksh, Hummer Ali, and siblings Sajjad Ali and Aurangzeb Ali, were among those on-board Iranian-flagged fishing vessel Al Murtuza when it was hijacked by Somali pirates last year.

The pirates tried to hijack an Indian naval ship, mistaking it for a merchant vessel near the Lakshadweep islands in March this year. They attacked the naval ship and in the counter-attack, the hijacked vessel sank. The Indian Navy rescued 16 hostages and 16 pirates and them over to the Yellow Gate police station on March 29.

The 16 pirates were put up in a local jail here and the hostages stayed at the Yellow Gate police station. Of them, 11 were Iranians. They were taken back to their country by the Iranian consulate in April. The Pakistani consulate recently responded to the communication sent by the Yellow Gate police and completed the verification and other procedures.

An official from the Pakistan embassy visited the sailors on Friday. “We gave him [the official] the NOC [no-objection certificate] for all the five persons,” Inspector of the Yellow Gate police station M.G. Tope told journalists.

Informed sources said the five sailors would board a Pakistan International Airlines flight to Karachi on Monday.

All of them were very happy about their return. Aurangzeb and Farhad, turned pink when asked who are awaiting them back home. The two are engaged to be married. “The marriage date will be fixed only after we return,” Aurangzeb said. But the list of invitees is already being made, and the first name is of course of a very special guest from India.

“When I get married, I will call Parvez bhai. He gave a daawat [feast] for us here. His son used to come to visit us every Sunday. We had a great time with him,” Aurangzeb said, pointing to a group photograph with Mohammed Junaid, a school-going kid who looked comfortable in the arms of the new uncles.

“It was Parvez bhai who gave us his cellphone to talk to our family members. They used to call up on his cellphone,” Sajjad said.

During the nearly three months stay at the police station, no one obstructed their movement. The open spaces became their cricket ground. They watched movies in the police station, prayed five times a day and moved around.

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