A day after a sailor jailed in Athens for over two-and-a-half years returned, he expressed his desire to go back to sea as soon as possible. While his parents are determined that he should find a job in India, the 24-year-old believes that the sea is his true calling. Kalpesh Shinde was on his first trip when his ship was apprehended by Greece navy. “I was in a ship named Haddad I and we were on our way to Libya. It was a container and we had packed items that were checked by Turkish Port Authorities,” he said.
According to Shinde, when they were apprehended, none of the seven crew members could have imagined what the packed items might be. “We were told it was plastic furniture. I am sure no one knew the truth,” he said. The items turned out to be weapons and ammunition, along with contraband allegedly for the Islamic State (IS). After his arrest in April 2016, Shinde was looking at a sentence of over 15 years, even as he maintained he was innocent.
Talking about his time behind bars, he says: “I and a colleague were the only two Indians (among those in jail). Even the authorities knew we were not criminals, but we were kept behind bars.” Shinde was acquitted by a court in Greece after the Indian Embassy intervened. He returned home on February 11 to his parents, Rajendra and Pallavi Shinde. “I have not been in favour of working overseas ever. Now that we have seen the dark side of his job, we don’t wish to let him continue,” Rajendra, who works at a petrol pump in Thane, said. Pallavi said: “I don’t want him to leave my side even for a day.”
But Kalpesh has a different perspective. “All jobs come with experiences good and bad. It was an experience of its kind, however bad. I wish to go back to the sea as that is all I have ever wanted to do and enjoy it the most. I think I will be able to convince them, if I spend enough time with them,” he said with a smile.