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Eight Indian sailors cry to be rescued from cast aside ship at Sharjah anchorage

Eight Indian sailors cry to be rescued from cast aside ship at Sharjah anchorage
Ch Sushil Rao | Jan 12, 2019

HYDERABAD: Eight sailors from India have literally been shackled to the sea for two years at the Sharjah anchorage and have urged the government to get them out of a ship which has practically been abandoned.

There are 10 sailors in the ship "MV Azraqmoiah", including one from Sudan and another from Tanzania. Among the eight Indian sailors are two from Andhra Pradesh. Ramesh Gadela and Yalla Rao Chekka from Srikakulam district are so distressed that they are unable to tell their families when they would return home. The other Indians stuck in the ship are Captain Ayyapan Swaminathan, Bharath Haridass, Gurunathan Ganesan, from Tamil Nadu, Alok Pal from Uttar Pradesh, Naskar Sourabh from West Bengal, and Rajib Ali from Assam .

What is also tragic is the ship was detained by the UAE coast guard on April 15 and the passports and seaman books of the sailors were taken away by it.

"It is as if we are slaves who have been abandoned. We are living pathetic lives on the ship. We are unable to go home and we have not been given a sign off by the ship management. Our salaries have also not been paid for several months," Captain Ayyapan Swaminathan told TOI on telephone from aboard the ship.

"We are struggling on the ship and want help to come back to our country with our salaries," Ramesh said in a video plea. Their pleas on video are being forwarded to the authorities by Shaheen Sayyed, Human rights defender with the international humanitarian organisation "Justice Upheld" so that they could be helped out of their troubles.

In the recent Gaja cyclone in Tamil Nadu, from where the ship’s captain Ayyapan Swaminathan hails from, the family suffered a heavy loss as their house in the village was affected. "My family managed to save their lives. But I have not been able to send them money," he said. The chief engineer of the ship, Gurunathan Ganesan also hails from Tamil Nadu.

The "Master" of the ship said a cook on the ship, Rajib Ali’s condition was even worse. He has been on the ship for the last 33 months and he could not get a ‘sign off’ from the ship and has had to stay put on it. "His father had died but still he could not go," Captain Ayyappan said. Rajib Ali who is from Assam has not got his salary for the last 22 months.

The sailors were recruited by Mumbai-based Rassiya Shipping Services Private Limited, Oath Marine Services Private Ltd and Krishnamrutam Enterprises Pvt Ltd. The ship’s management, Elite Way Marine Services, Abu Dhabi, has run into financial issues and for this reason, the crew were not being paid. The cargo ship containing rock stones has also become uncontrollable for the ship crew at the anchorage.

The crew are said to be suffering health issues too. They are getting limited provisions which the crew say are not sufficient. The Consulate General of India (CGI), Dubai which took cognisance of the problem sent some provisions to the crew on the ship in October 2018. The Federal Transport Authority of the UAE has also taken action against the company and banned the ship’s commercial operations. "Everyone knows about our problem but we are still having to suffer," the ship’s captain said.