Tortured by a group of drunk pirates and starved for days together, freedom seemed distant for the six Indian sailors on board m.v. Suez, who had almost given up hope of meeting their families.
And when freedom dawned upon them after ten months in captivity of Somali pirates, they could not believe their nightmare was over and were going to be reunited with family and friends.
“We were beaten when they were drunk and they would use anything they could get their hands on to beat us. We were sure they would kill us. There were moments when I wished they would just kill us so that we escape the torture,” said N.K. Sharma, a rescued sailor.
Ravinder Singh, said, “I feel so happy. I have waited for 10 months for this moment. I didn’t think I would see this day...I thought we all would be killed.”
Torture apart, food was scarce for the sailors who starved for many days. “Some days we just got water. We used to get boiled rice, spaghetti and potato once a week,” Mr. Sharma recalled.
Adding to the ordeal, their vessel ran out of fuel and faced the danger of capsizing, said Sharma. “Besides the physical torture, we faced the danger of capsizing as our fuel had run out and we were drifting. One way or the other, we were sure our end was near,” he said.
Prashant Chauhan, another rescued sailor said that even after Pakistan human rights activist Ansar Burney facilitated their release the sailors were still not sure if their freedom was real.
“Even during our travel to Karachi, I didn’t think we were actually going back to our families. The thing we thought would never happen was hapenning now. When I de-boarded my flight I realised this was real. Our nightmare was truly over,” Chauhan said.
The rescued sailors, however, refused to comment on the role played by the Indian government in facilitating their release, which has come in for sharp criticism from the media and families of the sailors.
“Indian and Pakistani media helped us a lot. As far as the Indian government’s role in the release, I don’t want to comment on it,” said Ravinder.
Now all that the sailors want to do is to be spend time with their families and to recover from the nightmare. .
“We’ve been through a lot these past few months. I just want to get back to my family,” said a visibly overwhelmed Biju from Thiruvanthapuram.
The crew of the m.v. Suez was brought to Karachi on Thursday by Pakistan Navy warship PNS Zulfiqar, which had picked up sailors from the waters off Oman. The MV Suez had sank somewhere off the coast of Oman after running out of fuel.
The crew, including 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan, were shifted to Pakistani warship PNS Babar after the m.v. Suez ran out of fuel and started sinking.
The crew was then transferred to another warship, PNS Zulfiqar, for the voyage to Pakistan. The m.v. Suez, owned by an Egyptian company, had been first boarded by Somali pirates in August last year.