Quick Links



    Asphalt crisis: pirates want dialogue with govt

    New Delhi: The Asphalt Venture hostage crisis is getting more complicated with sources telling CNN-IBN that Somali pirates now want to negotiate directly with the Indian government and not the ship owner.This new demand by the pirates could trigger a major stalemate as the government has maintained that they will not talk to the pirates directly. The government feels the ship owners should continue negotiation for the release of the remaining sailors.Howeverm the pirates say they don't want an additional ransom but want to negotiate with the Indian government for the release of their prisoners.Just eight crew members have been released while seven sailors of Asphalt Venture are still in captivity in spite of a ransom payment last month.The Captain of Asphalt Venture, Ramesh Singh, who was released along with seven other crew members on April 15 spoke to CNN-IBN about the ordeal."We thought we were going to be recaptured by Somali pirates," said Singh.Not only has he recounted the trauma of leaving their seven colleagues behind but has also urged the government to save their colleagues' lives. "Only the Indian government with its channels can lead to a solution to this situation which concerns the safety of all seafarers," he said.It has been an emotional homecoming for the Captain Ramesh Singh after a seven-month long ordeal in Somalia. In an e-mail interview to CNN IBN, he recounted the trauma of leaving his colleagues behind."We were extremely happy to be free, but that happiness turned sour when we found that seven of our colleagues were being kept behind. We were kept in another room for 2-3 hours. When we came out, we found out what had occurred,” he said.CNN-IBN: What was going through your mind when after getting released you were waiting for your colleagues in Somali waters?"We Feared Recapture,” said Captain Ramesh Singh."We were extremely distressed and concerned for our colleagues' whereabouts, as well as being fearful for our own safety as we thought we were going to be recaptured. Without the officers and engineers the vessel too was unable to sail on its own,” he added.In a desperate plea to the government, Captain Ramesh Singh said,”I urge the government to lead this to closure for the safety of our seven colleagues and all Indian seafarers who are currently in captivity, especially given the political dimension that the pirates are now introducing."After spending over seven months in a single room in trying conditions, the 15 sailors had almost become family in captivity, so now, until their remaining seven colleagues are back, the freed sailors claim, it isn't freedom in the real sense for them.