United by grief and pain of their children being abducted and held hostage by Somali pirates for over six months now, the parents of the 17 Indian crew members onboard chemical tanker MT Royal Grace, which was hijacked on March 2, have threatened to stage a ‘dharna’ in front of Defence Minister A.K. Anthony’s house if the Centre fails to initiate steps to secure the release of those in captivity.

Chandran. K, father of Midhun K. Chandran (24), said: “My son’s ship set off from Sharjah Port to Nigeria with 22 crew members, among them 17 Indian. On March 2, near Oman the ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. The private company which owns the ship has not taken any necessary action for release of the hostages. The last we heard from our children was two months ago in May.’’

Mr. Chandran, sitting tense and huddled with parents of the other crew members held hostage (most of whom are in their twenties) at the Kerala House here, found it difficult to talk with tears choking his voice.

“After the death of one hostage [a Nigerian] onboard the ship, the pirate allowed our children to call home. They told us that water, food and fuel for the ship was in short supply and that they were forced endure extreme heat. My son told me that life was very tough for him and the others who were being held hostage.’’

Parents of the Indians held hostage also met Defence Ministry A.K. Anthony on Thursday evening demanding that the Government immediately intervene on their behalf. Mr. Chandran said: “In case the Government doesn’t do anything for us, we will sit on a ‘dharna’ in front of Mr. Anthony’s house. He can then throw us in jail so that we too will suffer like our children. Without our children what future do we have?’’

Holding back her tears, Shyji Davis mother of Dibin Davis (22), who is also being held hostage on the ship, said: “I am a homemaker. I don’t know how the government or international mafia works. I just want my son back. The owner of the ship is absconding and nobody is telling us anything about the condition of our children. Is the Indian Government planning to just let our children die in the open waters without even trying to get them released? These are young boys who we are talking about, children who have just started their professional career.’’

No concrete information yet

In a letter circulated to various senior politicians asking for their help in the matter, the parents noted: “Though we have approached various political leaders, till date we haven’t received any concrete information about our children. It seems that the Indian government is not concerned about the life of the 17 Indian hostages onboard the ship [MT Royal Grace]. It is our request and appeal that the Indian Government should try and understand our situation. As parents we are very concerned about the well-being of our children about whom we have no authentic news for over six months now.’’

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