2 months: 7 Indian sailors continue under Houthi detentiontext_fields
Seven Indian sailors have been kept hostages, for nearly two months, by Houthi rebels after the formers were sailing at the Red Sea, along the shores of Hodeida province of Yemen. The United Arab Emirates ship, Rawabi, was en route to Saudi Arabia when it was captured by the Houthis on January 2, alleging that the vessel transported arms and ammunition, The News Minute (TNM) reports.
The Indian government has reached out to the family of a detainee, but the Dubai based ship company, which has employed the 7 Indians on a contract basis as well as 11 others, has been unavailable to contact.
The Saudi Arabian coalition, which has been fighting Iran backed Houthis since 2015, has said that the Rawabi was carrying medical supplies and added that the vessel was coming back after a mission, setting up a field hospital on Yemen territory.
But Houthi's responded, claiming that the vessel was a military cargo ship with offensive equipment. They said that it entered the Yemeni waters without authorisation and carried out hostile activities.
One of the captives called his wife on January 8. The wife told TNM that her husband said that he was safe and was being treated as a guest. But, the captives' phones, documents etc., were seized. Another detainee, 26-year-old Veera Venkata Siva Sai Gireesh, had informed his mother in a hasty call from someone's phone and told her of his detention. The call was on January 7, and he called twice after that. The mother told TNM that she and her daughter are dealing with the situation alone, while efforts to contact the shipowners have not borne fruit. She added that neither the Union and state governments nor the shipping company has reached out to them. Now, she has no idea whom to contact or seek help from so that her son would return home safely. She doesn't know which company hired her son and have no contact with the company, ultimately in a helpless situation.
Manoj Joy of Sailor's Society, a UK based maritime charity, said that the situation is not as same as rescuing Indians from Ukraine. Unlike in Ukraine, the sailors are under Houthi's captivity, which is no government.
The last update from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was more than one and half months ago, TNM says. The ministry had issued a statement that it is in contact with the company that owns the ship. The detainees are safe while the Indian government is putting all its efforts to bring the captives home, the ministry stated, adding that it wishes the Houthi's ensure the detainee's safety. The matter was raised in United Nations Security Council, a day after the MEA's statement, where India called for the captives' safe return and urged the Houthis to release them immediately.
However, there are no updates for the last two weeks, and the families are waiting and anxious.