India asks Indonesia to urgently repatriate detained seafarers

Jakarta: India on Tuesday asked Indonesia to take urgent steps to allow detained Indian crew members of commercial vessels to return home.

Indonesian officials have promised to treat the matter on high priority “in view of humanitarian aspect and excellent bilateral relations”, according to the Indian Embassy here.

As per media reports, at least 87 Indian seafarers are under detention in Indonesia since months for “illegal anchoring”.

The issue was raised by Sanjiv Arora, Secretary, Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) and Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA), in the Ministry of External Affairs, during the first consular dialogue held here in the framework of bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) established during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Indonesia in May last year.

“During the interaction, the Secretary (CPV & OIA) requested the Indonesian side, inter alia, to urgently take necessary measures to permit Indian crew, who have been detained onboard commercial vessels, to return to India,” said a press release issued by the Indian Embassy in Jakarta.

“He handed over an aide memoire to the Director General Andri Hadi, who assured to accord this matter high priority in view of humanitarian aspect and excellent bilateral relations,” it added.

The dialogue, held in Yogyakarta, also focused on furthering mechanisms to ensure the well-being and welfare of Indian and Indonesian nationals residing in and visiting each other’s countries, the release said, adding that both sides arrived at a common understanding on the steps to be taken in this direction.

The discussions also pertained to ensuring the well-being of Indian and Indonesian prisoners and facilitating mechanisms to ensure smooth and regular consular access.

Both delegations expressed confidence that their deliberations would make a positive contribution in further strengthening the multi-dimensional people-to-people contacts and exchanges to the mutual benefit of both countries, it said, adding that they agreed to regularly convene the consular dialogue alternately in India and Indonesia.

The discussions, held in a “highly friendly and constructive spirit”, covered wide ranging issues pertaining to consular, immigration, visas and related issues of mutual interest.

“Both sides agreed to take steps to further facilitate, expand and strengthen people-to-people contacts in diverse areas that underpin the CSP between the two countries,” the release said.