Kochi: The Indian sailors, who were detained in Equatorial Guinea over alleged violation of maritime boundary are likely to be shifted to Nigeria. The Nigerian Army has begun the process for the same. The Guinean force had forcefully taken away the passports of the Indian sailors on Tuesday.
Of the 26-member-crew, including three Malayalis, 15 are being held hostage in a room and the rest in the ship. On Wednesday, those who were in the room had also been shifted to the ship.
The Malayalis in the crew informed their family members that the Guinean force told them that they were being shifted to the ship for taking them to Nigeria. According to reports, a Nigerian ship is also deployed for the surveillance of the ship which carries the Indian sailors.
CPM Rajya Sabha MP AA Rahim had written to the External Affairs Ministry seeking urgent intervention to release the sailors.
“This is to bring to your urgent attention the plight of the MT Heroic Idun at present being illegally detained in Equatorial Guinea. The crew of the ship include sixteen Indian sailors. They have been detained since mid-August allegedly without any clear cause,” he said in his letter addressed to S Jaishankar.
In the letter that was posted on Twitter, he said that the ship scheduled to pick up a shipment of oil from Nigeria was approached by an unidentified vessel claiming to be from the Nigerian navy. “Suspecting piracy, the ship moved away into international waters. It is alleged that they were detained by the Navy of Equatorial Guinea from international waters,” he added.
In reply to the Rajya Sabha MP, the Indian Mission in Equatorial Guinea said that they have been in regular contact with the crew members over the phone since their detention in August. “We are closely monitoring developments and are actively engaged for an early resolution of the issue,” it said.
The Mission also said that the Indian Embassy and the High Commission in Abuja were “closely working” with authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria for the early release of crew members of the MV Heroic Idun. “All crew members are safe and those in the Detention Centre have been shifted to the ship,” it added.