Kin of Indian sailors who died last week in UAE still await mortal remains

Feb 14, 2017, 08:30 IST | Suraj Ojha

Manjeet Yadav holds up a picture of his cousin, Amit Yadav, who died after a 13-ft wave hit his ship. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Manjeet Yadav holds up a picture of his cousin, Amit Yadav, who died after a 13-ft wave hit his ship. Pics/Suresh Karkera

Ever since six Indian sailors lost their lives in the high seas near the United Arab Emirates (UAE), their families too have been all at sea, unable to deal with the shock. Take the Yadav family in Rabale, who lost their son Amit (21) but are yet to receive his body or information about what exactly happened.

Manjeet Yadav (left), cousin of deceased sailor Amit Yadav, and trade union leader Manoj Yadav are trying to bring the seaman’s body home
Manjeet Yadav (left), cousin of deceased sailor Amit Yadav, and trade union leader Manoj Yadav are trying to bring the seaman’s body home

The six seamen were working on two different ships, both of which capsized in a freak mishap near the Port of Sharjah. All that the families have been told is that the incident was caused by a monster wave, towering at about 13 feet when it crashed into the two offshore vessels - Alhamra and MT Capricorn Star. Both were supply ships that were heading towards the high seas to deliver supplies for a heavy vessel docked five to six nautical miles away from the Sharjah port.

The authorities have fished out the bodies of three sailors from Alhamra and three more bodies of Capricorn Star sailors. Two more from Alhamra are still missing. Devastated as they are by the news, the sailors’ kin are equally distressed by the utter lack of information about what happened.

Anxious for news
Among the three who were killed on Alhamra is Amit Yadav. His cousin, Manjeet Yadav told mid-day, “Although the mishap took place on February 3, we were informed about Amit’s death after two days. I am looking for his body and for more information, but have not found anything yet.”

21-year-old Amit had started his job as an oiler on the ship just last January. He was the sole earning member of his family, keeping them afloat with a measly salary of 1,400 Dirhams (approximately Rs 25,500).

His father, Satyanand Yadav told this reporter, “He was my only son. He went to Dubai in January 2016, but faced many problems there. The last payment he had received from them was in October, after which he did not get any money. He was in great tension and wanted to sign off from the ship.”

Satyanand added that Amit had been recruited in Mumbai, but wasn’t sure who the recruiter was.

Illegal recruitment
Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the placement agency that recruited the sailors was not registered with DG Shipping. Manoj Yadav, secretary of Forward Seamen’s Union of India said, “The company that had recruited the victims didn’t have the mandatory registration and placement service license (RPSL) to hire sailors. Despite not having the licence, the company is still recruiting.”

Not only does this mean that the recruitment was illegal, but it also explains why there is such a large gap in information available with the authorities, who have no record of these dealings. While Alhamra was registered with Ocean Blue Shipping Management Company, Indian officials are still not sure who owns MT Capricorn Star.

A senior DG Shipping officer explained, “Without RPSL, recruitment is illegal, as this does not come under the merchant shipping law, due to which we are unable to take any action against them. In such cases, the victims’ families can approach the police, who have the authority to take action under the Indian Penal Code.”

He added, “We regularly send emails to around 2 lakh seamen and agents, warning that recruitment should only happen through RPSL agents, but many of them still opt for unlicensed agents and risk their lives.”

Bodies to be sent soon
“We are in contact with the Indian Embassy, which is in the process of sending the bodies back to India,” said a senior officer from the DG Shipping office, while confirming that they still have no update on what has become of the two missing seamen from Alhamra.

13
Crew strength on Alhamra

6
Crew strength on MT Capricorn Star

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