The Union Shipping Minister GK Vasan announced on Saturday that 28 Indian soldiers held captive by Somalian pirates since last year have been released.
“Yesterday (Friday) 28 Indian sailors in two ships (MV Royal Grace and MT Smrini) were freed. They will come back here and joint their families in few days,” IANS quoted Vasan as saying.
The freed sailors will return home in a week’s time. 17 of them will board MV Royal Grace and 11 will board MT Smrini.
“Due to coordinated actions of Ministry of Shipping, External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Director General Shipping and other important agencies, yesterday we could get release of two vessels MV Royal Grace hijacked in March 2012 and MT Smrini hijacked in May 2012,” Vasan told PTI.
However, the minister was secretive when asked of the details of pirates’ demands. He added, “we are very concerned about the safety of the seafarers and it was done in a discreet way by Ministry of Shipping, External Affairs, Ministry of Defence and other important agencies.”
The minister, concerned of the growing issue of Somalia’s piracy, revealed that 269 Indian sailors were captured in 2012 of which 236 sailors have been released.
He said nine Indians are still in confinement and the government will continue its efforts to release them and ensure their safe return.