Unions demand safety of Indian seafarers from pirates

"We demand that the government should take more effective measures in combating the menace of piracy. We want the matter to be addressed at the level of the United Nations," National Union of Seafarers' of India (NUSI) General Secretary, Abdul Gani Serang, said in a statement here.

Maritime Union of India, Indian National Shipowners Association, Foreign Owners Representatives and Ship Managers Association, Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents, Company of Master Mariners of India, Institute of Marine Engineers of India, Nautical Institute, Dufferin Rajendra and Chanakya Ex-Cadets Association, among others, participated in the morcha.

In September last, the Panama-flagged vessel 'Asphalt Venture', with 15 crew members on board, was hijacked by Somalian pirates. Despite receiving the demanded ransom amount, the pirates released the ship along with only 8 crew members, including the captain, but held back 7 others.

"This act of back-tracking by pirates from their word has shocked the national and international fraternity and has elicited widespread condemnation. This is an unprecedented situation and has raised serious questions and is affecting the exim trade and also endangering the lives of the innocent seafarers further," Serang said.

There could be a strong possibility of international boycott by seafarers coming from the labour supplying countries like the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh, Serang said.

"Shipowners and seafarers have been left to fend for themselves without any worldwide Government support. It is the responsibility of every sovereign State to provide a safe and secure environment to the seafarers who are discharging their professional duties in the high seas," he added.

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