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Sailor's family to meet PM, Rahul Gandhi today

It has been eight days since Vivaan, infant son of incarcerated sailor Captain Sunil James, breathed his last. His body still lies in the hospital morgue, awaiting his father’s return from Togo. Unfortunately, the joined efforts of his family, the nation’s media and the government have failed to yield any result (‘Family awaits jailed Mumbai sailor’s return to lay baby to rest’, December 5). Now, the family is making a last, desperate attempt to retrieve their lost kin - by a meeting with the prime minister.

Sanjay Nirupam Sunil James
On hearing about Sunil James and his family’s situation, MP Sanjay Nirupam (left) immediately faxed the PMO with a request for a meeting and was able to secure a confirmed appointment for Tuesday

Armed with all their documents - including the hospital papers, Vivaan’s death certificate, a summary of the case details, and all the correspondences with lawyers and the marine company - Aditi James, accompanied by her twin sister Anvi Madappa and her husband Rakesh, will fly out to New Delhi this morning for a meeting with the Prime Minister’s Office. A meeting with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is also on the cards.

Rakesh confirmed the development, saying, “We have knocked on every possible door to get Sunil back to India for the last rites of his son, but all our efforts have failed. Our last hope lies with the PMO and Rahul.” Asked how they managed to secure an appointment with the county’s top office, Rakesh explained, “On December 7, MLA Aslam Sheikh was able to secure an audience with MP Sanjay Nirupam. On hearing about Sunil and his family’s situation, Nirupam immediately faxed the PMO with a request for a meeting, and was able to secure a confirmed appointment for Tuesday, December 10.” It is Nirupam who will escort them to the meeting.

Rakesh, Aditi wife of Sunil James
Sunil James' wife Aditi and his brother-in-law Rakesh. Pic/ Atul Kamble

“We are heading to New Delhi with the hope that the leader of our country will pay heed to our situation and move his considerable resources to ensure Sunil returns soon. Every second counts when we have a dead body awaiting burial,” said an emotional Rakesh, adding: “Every hour of every day makes a difference. How much longer must they wait while the body of Sunil’s child is desecrated?”

A senior official from the Union Shipping Ministry told MiD DAY: “We are in touch with K Jeeva Sagar, High Commissioner of India in Ghana. His second secretary is still at Lome in Togo, and is following up the matter in the court and with the foreign ministers of the Togo government. There has been no breakthrough as yet.” Meanwhile, Captain Nilesh Gandhi, head fleet personnel, Accord Marine, added, “We are awaiting feedback from our agents in Togo; so far there is no change in the situation.”

Satish Sakleshpur, second secretary with the Indian High Commission in Ghana told MiD DAY, “The local government has categorically mentioned that since it is a judicial issue only the court would decide on the same. I have been meeting the government officials concerned and apprising them about the seriousness of the case and the need to release Sunil, but unfortunately we are not getting any definite response.” Asked if he managed to meet Sunil in custody, Satish said he had, adding, “Sunil wants to return to India at the earliest to perform the last rites and he is aware of the fact that we all are trying hard to release him.” 

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