BJP thanks Pakistani activist, not navy, for saving Indian sailors

June 24th, 2011 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday thanked Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney for raising funds to pay the ransom and free sailors of M.V. Suez who spent 10 months in Somali pirates’ captivity.

However, the party made no mention of the role played by Pakistani Navy ships or the facilitation done by Pakistani authorities in the safe return of the six Indians who were part of 22-member international crew of the merchant vessel.

“The Indian sailors of M.V. Suez have come back after 10 months of being held in captivity by the Somali pirates and we are grateful for the efforts of Ansar Burney, the human rights activist based in Pakistan, through whose efforts the Indian sailors could come back to the country,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters.

Somali pirates, who hijacked the vessel ten months ago in October 2010, released the MV Suez last week reportedly in return for a ransom of $2.1 million. The negotiations were led by Ansar Burney.

The 22-member crew of the Egyptian vessel comprised six Indians, 11 Egyptians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan.

The vessel was initially escorted on its way to Oman by Pakistani naval vessel PNS Babar. The crew, however, abandoned the vessel when it ran out of fuel and were transferred to the Pakistan naval ship. They were later put on board the PNS Zulfikar, which arrived in Karachi Thursday.

The BJP leader spoke on the need to tackle the growing threat of Somali pirates. “Somali pirates who have very sophisticated weapons are today operating almost very close to the Indian coast. We have information that they have come so far, even 1,000 nautical miles from the shore,” she said.

The BJP spokesman also questioned if the government has a policy to deal with the pirates and said that a meeting of all states with a maritime boundary should be called immediately.

“We ask the government: Do you have a comprehensive doctrine to deal with the pirates? They are taking human hostages which is very serious issue,” she said.

“A meeting should be called immediately of all states with maritime borders, so that the state governments are taken in confidence on what is being done and how best to handle it,” she added.

During rescue efforts by India and Pakistan, the two countries were embroiled in controversies over each other’s manoeuvres, with Pakistan accusing the Indian Navy of brushing against its vessel, which India met with a counter-allegation.

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