India rules out military intervention in sailors hostage crisis

April 19th, 2011 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) With pirates still holding seven Indian sailors despite ransom being paid for their release, the government Tuesday ruled out any military intervention to rescue the hostages.

Earlier in the day, the government’s crisis management group met here to discuss the situation. The government has also rushed a warship to the Somali coast to monitor the situation.

The government has entrusted the task of coordinating the efforts to obtain release of the seven Indian sailors of cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture with Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar.

The pirates, who were holding the crew hostage since September last year, released eight of the 15 Indian crew of the merchant vessel Saturday after paying of an undisclosed ransom by the ship owners. But they refused to free seven others reportedly seeking to use them as a lever to seek release of over 120 of their comrades held in prisons in India after they were captured by the navy in the Indian Ocean in the last six months.

“Let’s await the outcome of the efforts of the cabinet secretary. It has been consciously decided that the cabinet secretary will coordinate the inter-governmental coordination and efforts that are needed to get the Indians released by the pirates,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters on the sidelines of a book release event when asked about the crisis management group meeting and its decisions.

Refusing to disclose the means the government would adopt to get the sailors released, Krishna ruled out use of India’s special forces in an offensive operation.

“We cannot spell out the modus operandi. These are things done on the quiet and let’s keep pursuing it. Let’s hope that whatever we expect in terms of outcome will be achieved,” he said

“No. Let us not speculate on this and thereby give the pirates an additional hand to hold on to the hostages,” he said, when asked about possibility of the commandos from the navy storming the cargo ship to rescue the sailors.

The navy had on Sunday diverted its Talwar-class frigate from the Gulf of Aden, where it was on an anti-piracy patrol, to the Somali coast and has been tasked to keep an eye on the sailors hostage crisis that is developing there.

The eight Indian sailors already released from captivity by Somali pirates have refused to return to India until their seven colleagues are freed.

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