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Families of 5 Indians Abducted in Nigeria Seek Help From Sushma Swaraj, Minister Assures Action

Sushma Swaraj said she is looking into the safe release of the sailors and has taken up the matter with Indian high commissioner.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:May 7, 2019, 10:20 AM IST
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Families of 5 Indians Abducted in Nigeria Seek Help From Sushma Swaraj, Minister Assures Action
File photo of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj.
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New Delhi: It has been 16 days since pirates abducted five Indian sailors after taking their ship at Bonny Outer anchorage in Nigeria but there has been no news about their wellbeing, claims the family of one of the abducted men.

Bhupender Gulia, whose 20-year-old nephew Ankit was abducted on April 19, told News 18 that he has reached out to the owner of the ship, the company, the agent and the Ministry of External Affairs but has not been told anything about the rescue of his nephew.

Ankit works as an OS (ordinary seaman) on the ship M/T APECUS. He was abducted along with six others from a ship that had 15 members on board and was anchored off Lagos, Nigeria. Five of the seven abducted were Indians and it was the wife of a third abducted officer, Sudeep Chaudhary, who informed Bhupender about the incident on April 24.

Ankit is a resident of Rohtak in Haryana and his widowed mother has not yet been told about her son’s abduction as family members fear the news would send her in a state of shock. They are trying to desperately seek an appointment with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. They want her intervention in the matter immediately as they say the wait for information is excruciating.

Bhupender said he has got Congress leader Deepender Hooda and Haryana’s agriculture minister OP Dhankar to reach out to MEA on behalf of the five families, but is yet to receive any response.

On Tuesday morning, Swaraj said she is looking into the safe release of the sailors and has taken up the matter with Indian high commissioner. “I have seen news reports about abduction of five Indian sailors by pirates in Nigeria. I am asking Indian High Commissioner to take this up at the highest level with Government of Nigeria for their release,” the external affairs minister said in a tweet.

The families have also contacted the ship owners but Bhupender said he was told to not speak to the media about it as they were trying to secure the release of their kin. Bhupender, however, said he finds it hard to believe them as they did not even bother to inform them about the abduction in the first place.

Sources in the ministry of external affairs confirmed that they are aware of the incident. They said the ministry is in touch with the Nigerian government and the owners of the ship, and are hopeful of an early solution. The Indian government’s stated position has been that it does not engage in any ransom discussion as that would make Indians on difficult assignments sitting ducks.

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