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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Indian Government's Official Position on Maritime Piracy

This is what our kachraa munceepaltee gormint has to say about what their position in context with piracy - you there now, drink your tulsi ka juice, sit in the corner, gormint munceepaltee of the Jahaz Bhavan chowkidar will not let you in but ALL IS WELL? Sorry for the hyperbole, but dealing with the human element of 3 separate sea piracy episodes, is enough to drive people round the bend. And worse.

""decided to "wait and watch" ""

Now I really know why Captain Ramdas K. Menon from the RAK ARIKANA / RAK SINDBAD world in Ras al Khaimah died. His heart literally broke when he heard about the truth. And I know why another very dear batchmate looks and sounds so tense all the time. And why these are some of the realities in connection with piracy, not really revealed . . .

#  balls being burnt off.
# legs being tied with your face in a gunny bag with rats inside being dipped head first into water and AK47s being fired around you.
# being tied naked into the freezer room (minus 17 degrees centigrade) and hung up with your hands behind you.
# fed only plain rice with no salt/veggies/daal anything for 11 months.
# being regularly sodomised or threatened with same.
# owner trying to skim off the insurance money for himself
# being left naked on hot steel decks face down while birds peck you
#  And then, come back to India, and die.
The chiefmost negotiator on the ground, wait for this, the famour "Ali" - is reporedly a Filipino. On to around 8-10 negotiations at any given time.
More than one release has been delayed because the various people in between have tried to skim off the insurance ransom pay-out.
Families of the ASPHALT VENTURE stranded and distressed officers yet not released have never been contacted by the DG Shipping, and more than once, were unable go up to meet anyone there.
And as for the late Capt. Prem Kumar of RAK AFRIKANA, bravest of the brave from 1980-81, his batchmates and he are proving once again the strength of the "batchmate bond" - which is confusing to some, but understood by a few.+
I have attended a few piracy seminars, and have now stopped going there, choosing to read up on the reports and papers circulated - as well as network separately. My own association with seafaring and the commercial as well as fiduciary elements of trade including especially shipping also extends to some work done in assisting and providing intelligence on the recovery of moveable stolen assets of any sort - especially when they cross international borders - automobiles is one of them.
But I have not been as shaken up as on hearing reports from seafarers, Indian seafarers, returned from piracy episodes, in my whole life, and I have seen some terrible things, like:-
# children trapped in a school-bus that went off a bridge and sank underwater in a river.
# college girls being burnt in a bus.
# a man being taken off a bus, beaten and burnt by a crowd.
# been at the New Delhi Railway Station when a post 1984 train came in.
# hangings after stonings in public.
# the trade in human body parts and foetuses
# bodies on the ground after massacre of "natives" in Laurenco du Marques.
Many of my friends will say -oh, don't even think of these things. But does that make them go away, does that give the government the right to say "wait and watch".
What can you do as a seafarer?
The option of a "strike" is laughable. Our same wait and watch Government will not think twice before declaring ESMA and arresting a few. In any case, are we united enough to do so?
What you can do, however, is this:- work only on ships where flag state provides you some element of safety. The larger issue with piracy is that it is mostly the FOC / tax haven registered kind of ships which are caught and where negotiations are pro-longed.
Next, simply avoid and refuse to sail in the affected waters, and if you must - then ensure that your conpany and ship's insurance and P&I provide ample cover. One piracy episode will probably spell an end to your maritime career. There are currently marine engineers and deck officers who returned or otherwise willingly working as cargo surveyors at salaries paid to tally clerks.
Make a noise. Join hands with the impacted families. Go to the nearest MMD and/or DGS office near you and organise regular protests. Enter into their daily routine with full legal clarity to  pose questions on their day to day activities. File RTI Applications of all sorts.
If you are ashore this and reading this, then start today - make your presence felt. Because otherwise, if you don't, then you too will become a statistic in the 'wait and watch' government of ours.


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