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Indian crew onboard cargo ship allege ill-treatment by Vietnamese officers

Indian crew onboard cargo ship allege ill-treatment by Vietnamese officers
V Devanathan / May 4, 2021

Madurai: An Indian crew on board VSG Pride, a Panama-flagged ship that docked at the Tuticorin port two days ago, have complained of ill-treatment and harassment by Vietnamese officers and a cook on board. They were supplied rotten vegetables to cook and when questioned, one of them was attacked with a knife. Some of them have left the ship at Tuticorin citing threat to their life.

On receiving a complaint emailed by them, Mercantile Marine department and immigration officials at the port conducted an inquiry with the crew on Monday. Consequently, the ship which was to leave on Monday night has been held up. The eight-member crew, including three from Tamil Nadu, had gone on board the ship on February 25 at Tuticorin port. Things went smoothly till mid-April when the ship was on its way back to Tuticorin from the Philippines. The crew could not wash utensils due to unavailability of water. The crew members said cook Pham Xuan Hai started harassing them thereafter. The officials also cut down provisions. They were given only a couple of tomatoes, an onion and potatoes, all rotten. Instead of cooking oil, they were given lubricating oil.

M Tamil Vanan, a native of Namakkal, said, “One of the crew members, Surender Singh, went and aired our grievance to the cook. But the cook picked up a quarrel with him and even attacked him with a knife. He suffered a deep cut in his palm while trying to stop the man.

Suraj Singh, another crew member said they took up the issue with the captain several times, but he refused to interfere. They found that the ship’s engineers and chief engineer, all Vietnamese, also began threatening them. “I and three others decided to leave the ship as there was threat to our lives,” he said. However, Tamil Vanan, his two Tamil friends and Adarsh Yadav, who hail from a poor family do not want to leave the ship. “We have paid Rs 3 lakh taken on loan to an agent to get the job. We have decided to face our fate,” he said.

K Sreekumar, an inspector with International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and Manoj Joy of Seafarers Port Welfare Association, got in touch with them on being alerted. Sreekumar said a complaint has been lodged with the coastal security group police as well.