PM assures sailor’s family of help

The judge met the Sunil and his colleagues and our lawyer Tuesday.

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Published: December 11, 2013 1:01 am

In a major relief to the family members of Mumbai-based merchant navy captain Sunil James,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday entrusted PMO Joint Secretary Jawed Ashraf with securing his release from Togo,where Sunil and two of his colleagues have been detained on charges of abetting piracy,James’s family members said.

Sunil’s wife Aditi,and her siblings Avni Rao and Rakesh Madappa met Singh in New Delhi Tuesday with the assistance of Malad MLA Aslam Shaikh and MP Sanjay Nirupam.

“The Prime Minister listened to us patiently and was very sympathetic to Sunil’s plight. He has assured us that the government will do everything in its capacity to bring Sunil back. He told us that Ashraf would speak to the Togo government and also monitor the progress that the Indian High Commission in Ghana was making in its legal efforts,” said Rakesh.

Sunil (28) and two of his colleagues aboard the ship MT Ocean Centurion were detained by the Togo Navy in July after they reported a pirate attack on their vessel. Rakesh said his lawyer in Togo had confirmed that the judge hearing the case had not yet made a decision on the release application filed by the family.

The family have been pushing for his release following the death of Sunil’s 11-month-old son Vivaan due to septicemia on December 2.

“The judge met the Sunil and his colleagues and our lawyer Tuesday. He is yet to make a decision on our application. We hope that now the government secures his release,” Rakesh said.

Meanwhile,the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) wrote to Togo President Faure Gnassingbé Tuesday requesting him to allow Sunil to travel to India to conduct the last rites of Vivaan.

srinath.rao@expressindia.com

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