Families of missing sailors move rights panel

March 20th, 2008 - 12:35 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

Mumbai, March 19 (IANS) The family members of the 24 Indian crewmembers of missing ship MV Rezzak Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission (MHRC), seeking its intervention to trace the seamen. The family members demanded action against the directors of Pelican Marine, a Mumbai-based company, which they alleged does not possess a full-fledged licence to recruit seamen for ships.

The ship left the port of Novorossiysk, Russia, on the Baltic coast for Bartin port, Turkey, on Feb 17 and since then has been reported missing.

Uma Mohan, sister of the ship’s chief engineer Mahendra Mohan, said the families believe the missing crew are still alive.

“That’s the reason why the families came all the way from Delhi, Jharkhand, nine from Lakshadweep and Mumbai to knock the doors of the MHRC today,” Mohan told IANS.

The memorandum submitted to the MHRC pointed out that the ship was detained in Russia after it was found to have nearly 37 defects.

The Pelican Marine officials initially said a Turkish company, CMR Denizcilik ve Ticaret A.S., owned the ship. Then, it said that another company by the name of 2D Shipping owned the ship.

But the latest records available with the Russian authorities indicate that Samta Shipmanagement Pvt Ltd, Singapore, owned the ship.

“We strongly suspect that this ship must be under the controlled custody of someone,” the memorandum said.

Incidentally, another ship, MV Jupiter-6, belonging to the same company, Pelican Marine, had disappeared with 10 Indian crewmembers in 2005.

“In last three years, 35 Indian crewmembers have vanished without a trace - something that is very mysterious,” said Mohan.

She said the MHRC assured them it would conduct inquiries and do the needful in the matter.

The family members have sent copies of the memorandum to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other central leaders.

Last week, they submitted a memorandum to the director-general of shipping and were still waiting for response.

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