Freed Indian sailors reach Delhi, thank Pakistan (Lead)

June 24th, 2011 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) It was an emotional welcome for six sailors of an Egyptian cargo vessel who were held captive by Somali pirates for 10 months as they were reunited with their families here Friday.

Welcomed with garlands, the sailors described their time on the hijacked MV Suez as the worst experience of their lives. They thanked Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney who arranged for the $2.1 million ransom money to get them and 16 other crew members of the ship - including 11 Pakistanis - released.

“We are gratefull to the Ansar Burney Trust which raised the money to get us released,” said N.K. Sharma, one of the freed sailors.

MV Suez, which was hijacked by Somali pirates Aug 2, 2010 in the Gulf of Aden, was relesed June 14. 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 transfered to the naval ship. They were later put on board the PNS Zulfikar, which arrived in Karachi Thursday.

They arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on an Emirates flight via Dubai.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna expressed relief over the release and thanked Pakistan for aiding it.

“I am very relieved, and very thankful to those who were involved in getting our sailors released. Particularly, I would like to thank Pakistan,” Krishna told news channel Times Now.

Recounting their experience on the hijacked ship, the sailors said they lived in fould conditions with limited food and water.

“Survival was most challenging. We were given limited food and water. We would catch fish for our survival,” said Prashant Cauhan, another sailor from the ship.

Asked about the Indian government’s role, the sailors expressed disappointment at not being helped.

“The Indian government extended no help. We are tired and have nothing to say (to the government),” said Ravinder Gulia, another sailor.

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