Asserting that Beijing "never denied any vessel departure", China has said that the "real" reason for Indian sailors stranded near its shores is that the "freight forwarder doesn't want to adjust plans due to commercial interests".
"Chinese authorities have been in close communication with Indian side & provided timely assistance & necessary supplies to Indian sailors. China has never denied any vessel departure. Real cause of situation is freight forwarder doesn't want to adjust plans due to commercial interests," spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India Counselor Ji Rong tweeted.
Two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so.
On Wednesday, Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Indian sailors stuck in China will be brought back to India soon, as diplomatic talks are on with the neighbouring country.
"Diplomatic talks are going on for this successfully. Our seafarers will come to India soon," Mandaviya said in reply to a query about sailors being stuck in China for the last seven months during Cabinet briefing.
China on December 25 had said that there is no 'link' between stranded Indian ship crew on its Chinese ports and its strained relations with India and Australia.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 and it has 23 Indian sailors. Another vessel, MV Anastasia with 16 Indian nationals as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, waiting for discharge of its cargo, he had said at a media briefing.
Reports have stated that the families are worried about the mental state of the sailors. Savitri Singh, the 70-year-old mother of Gaurav Singh, 28, one of the sailors on the Anastasia, broke down while speaking to Mumbai Mirror.
A couple of weeks ago, Gaurav's brother-in-law Shivraj G started a change.org petition to draw attention to this, but Savitri's hope is fading fast. "It’s been 13 months since Gaurav last set foot on land. I know he's miserable. How can I breathe easy when my son is in such a state?" she asks.
The report stated that the family has spoken to the Indian embassy and approached various officials, "but they just say we are working on it, and months have gone by... I can’t sleep because I am so worried about him. He is broken; he feels he’ll never see his family again. If something happens, they will just say they’re sorry but I’ll lose my child", Savitri was quoted as saying.