New Delhi: Five Indian sailors who were abducted from a ship in Nigeria have been rescued after over two months in captivity, Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday.
Mandaviya said the seafarers from the vessel 'MT Apecus' were kidnapped and taken ashore from the vessel in the outer anchorage off Bonny Island in Nigeria on April 19.
The 5 Indian seafarers - Sudeep Chaudhary of Odisha, Ankit Hooda, Chirag Yadav, Avinash Reddy & Moogu Ravi - from vessel 'MT Apecus', were kidnapped & taken ashore from vessel in outer anchorage of Bonny Island, Nigeria on April 19.
"An Inter-Ministerial Group of Officers (IMGO) was set up by the government under the Ministry of Shipping to deal with potential maritime security situations arising out of any hijacking at sea of merchant's vessels with Indian crew," he said in a statement.
The High Commission of India, Abuja, Nigeria conveyed the details of the incident to the Nigerian authorities after which the Nigerian Navy boarded the vessel to secure it as well as carry an investigation of the incident. Also, the Regional Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (RMCC), Nigeria continued to assist in the matter, the statement read.
"I am happy to share that due to the sustained efforts of various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Shipping, the Directorate General of Shipping and the High Commission of India, Abuja, Nigeria, the kidnapped Indian seafarers were successfully released and have reached the safe custody of the authorities on June 27," he said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar appreciated the help of Nigerian authorities, the Ministry of Shipping and the High Commission of India in Abuja and all other stakeholders who have contributed to the release of the seafarers.
"They are being brought to Port Harcourt under Nigerian police escort and our HC will safely repatriate them to India," Jaishankar said in a tweet.
In another tweet, he also said the Indian embassy in Beirut is extending all assistance to facilitate the repatriation of mortal remains of an Indian from Lebanon at the earliest who died of an illness there.
"Had taken up the issue with MEA after receiving a distress appeal from Shri Pradeepta Kumar Chowdhary, a resident of Odisha whose son Sudeep, a Sailor 3rd Officer on the vessel ‘MT Apecus’ was kept hostage along with four other sailors from Haryana, Maharashtra & Andhra," tweeted Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Earlier, Bhagyashree Das, wife of the abducted sailor from Odisha Sudeep Kumar Choudhury, had appealed to the then Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter saying her husband has been kidnapped from the MT APECUS (IMO 733810) vessel.
"@SushmaSwaraj Plz help us to save my husband, Sudeep Kumar Choudhury 3rd Officer Merchant Navy, who has been kidnapped along with 4 other Indians from vessel, MT APECUS(IMO 733810) anchored off Lagos, Nigeria on 19.04.2019. Require ur early & urgent intervention into this matter," Bhagyashree had appealed in her tweet.
On April 30, Bhagyashree had tagged former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Jay Panda seeking his intervention into the matter. “@PandaJay Sir Plz help us to save my husband, Sudeep Kumar Choudhury 3rd Officer Merchant Navy, who has been kidnapped along with 4 other Indians from vessel, MT APECUS(IMO 733810) anchored off Lagos, Nigeria on 19.04.2019. Require ur early & urgent intervention into this matter,” she wrote.