Six Keralites among seized oil tankers in Iran-UK faceoff
Kochi/Kasaragod/Malappuram: Six Keralites are on-board the two oil tankers seized, Stena Impero – British-flagged ship seized by Iran and Grace 1 – Iranian tanker seized by Britain.
Kochi Kalamassery native Dijo Pappachan (26) is on-board Stena Impero, his family was informed by Stena Impero's Swedish owners, Stena Bulk, on Sunday. Dijo is the mess man in the vessel.
The names of the employees on-board has been handed over to India by Swedish Embassy, said Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan.
It is reported that apart from Dijo, Sunilkumar, son of Pulikkamannil Gopinathan and Prajith Melakath are named in the list. The procedures to confirm their names and addresses are underway. India Embassy is engaged in talks with Iran to secure the release of the 18 Indian sailors on board the British-flagged oil tanker, minister said.
Stena Impero which has been seized on Friday by the Iranian Navy in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Gulf, has 23-member crew, comprising Indians, Russians, Latvians and Filipinos.
Among the crew members of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, seized by British Royal Marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, three are Keralites. There are 28 crew members on-board Grace 1 including Kasaragod Uduma native P Prajith Purushothaman (32), Guruvayur native Rejin and Malappuram Wandoor native Ajmal.
The news of the seizure of the Iranian ship came out after Ajmal contacted his family the other day.
Talking to Mathrubhumi over phone, Ajmal said that the Captain and Chief Officer were taken in custody by the British Royal Marines and there is nothing to worry.
The phones and laptops of the crew were seized but later a phone and a SIM card was returned. Everyone is safe, Prajith told family. Prajith is the third engineer in the vessel and is the younger son of former Manager of Bank of Baroda Kasaragod branch P Purushothaman and P K Sreeja. He had joined duty three months back.
Rejin, son of Mammiyur native Rajan and Geetha, had gone to Britain three months back.
Dijo has joined Stena Impero on July 18 from Mumbai after his hotel management course. He had told family that there were two other Keralites on-board the vessel. The Captain of the ship is from Fort Kochi and the other is a Palluruthi native, Dijo’s father remembered his son telling him. But this is not officially confirmed.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayn has written to Centre, asking for the safe return of the Keralites on-board the seized oil tankers. In the letter sent to external affairs Minister S Jaysankar, he demanded details of the Keralites.
However, minister Muraleedharan told Mathrubhumi, that Iran has officially informed India they are in custody of the British-flagged oil tanker. The crew has not been arrested or taken in custody. Everyone on-board is safe. But they haven’t handed over the names or details of the crew members, he said.
According to media reports, British Royal Marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 seized Grace 1 which was heading to Syria "in breach of European Union (EU) sanctions".
The Stena Impero was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Friday in a key shipping route in the Gulf. Tehran said the vessel was "violating international maritime rules".