Indian Sailor Aboard Seized Brit Ship, Parents Hopeful for Release

It was on 18 July that TV Pappachan, based out of Kalamassery in Ernakulam district, last heard from his son, 26-year-old Dijo Pappachan. Dijo spoke to his parents and told them that the ship he was working on, British chemical/oil tanker Stena Impero, was somewhere near Dubai and was travelling towards Saudi Arabia.

The very next day, the family received a call from the British company informing the family that the ship had been seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Gulf.

“We were shocked. All the details were not clear to us then,” TV Pappachan told TNM. The family could not contact Dijo again. They immediately got in touch with a friend of his and asked him to contact the company again.

“He got all the details for us. Our only relief is that the Iranian government is behind the seizure and not illegal elements who operate in the oceans,” says Pappachan.

Iran has said the Stena Impero with 18 crew members on board was violating international maritime rules and had failed to respond to calls after colliding with a fishing boat. However, British Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has said that the ship was forced to sail into Iran in ‘clear contravention of the international maritime law’.

Pappachan says that he waited for a day more to see if there would be any news from India’s side or reports in the media about the Indians onboard the ship, but with none forthcoming he decided to approach local political leaders in Ernakulam.

“I approached the local councillor. Later Congress MP Hibi Eden, CPI (M) leader P Rajeev and former IUML minister Ibrahimkunju came home. Hibi Eden has promised to take up in the Parliament,” Pappachan said.

Dijo’s mother Deena Pappachan is worried since there has been no news for three days now. Dijo, a chef on the ship, had left last month. He has been working for the past two and a half years.

“Since the world has raised the issue, I am hopeful my son will be released,” Pappachan said.

Three more sailors, including the captain of the ship, are from Kerala. However, the family does not have details about them and have been unable to get in touch.

India said on Saturday that it is in touch with Tehran for the release of the Indian sailors.

Stena Impero has Indians, Russians, Latvians and Filipinos among its crew. The Indian government has said that they have reached out to the Iranian government and demanded safe passage for the sailors.

(This article was originally published on The News Minute)

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