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8 Indians stranded for months on ship off UAE coast cry out for help

The ship, MV Azraqmoiah, has been in a pathetic state for several months. (Inset) Capt Ayyapan
HYDERABAD: Eight sailors from India have literally been shackled to the sea at the Sharjah anchorage and have urged the government to get them out of a ship which has practically been abandoned.

There are 10 sailors onboard the ‘M V Azraqmoiah’, including one from Sudan and another from Tanzania. Among the eight Indian sailors, Ramesh Gadela and Yalla Rao Chekka hail from Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. The other Indians have been identified as Capt Ayyapan Swaminathan, Bharath Haridass and Gurunathan Ganesan from Tamil Nadu, Alok Pal from Uttar Pradesh, Naskar Sourabh from West Bengal and Rajib Ali from Assam.

The ship was detained by the UAE coast guard on April 15, 2016 and the passports and seaman books of the sailors were confiscated. “It is as if we are slaves who have been abandoned. We are living pathetic lives and are unable to return home as we have not been given a sign off by the management. Our salaries are also pending for several months,” Captain Ayyapan Swaminathan told TOI on phone.

“We need help to return to our country,” Ramesh said in a video. The video has been forwarded to the authorities concerned by Shaheen Sayyed, a human rights defender working with ‘Justice Upheld’, an international humanitarian organisation.

In the recent Gaja cyclone in Tamil Nadu, Capt Swaminathan’s family suffered a huge loss as their house was destroyed. “My family managed to stay alive. But I have not been able to send them any money,” he said.

The sailors were recruited by Mumbai-based Rassiya Shipping Services Private Limited, Oath Marine Services Private Ltd and Krishnamrutam Enterprises Pvt Ltd. The ship’s management, Elite Way Marine Services, Abu Dhabi, has run into financial issues and thus, the crew are not being paid. The crew is said to be suffering from health issues too. They are getting limited provisions from the Consulate General of India, Dubai, which the crew allege are insufficient. The Federal Transport Authority of UAE has banned the ship’s commercial operations. “Everyone knows about our plight but we are still suffering,” Ayyapan rued.
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