Mumbai: Somali pirates convicted for 2011 hijacking complete their sentence
Say no to piracy: that's the lesson 41 of the Somali pirates convicted last year for the 2011 hijacking are taking home with them
Their knowledge of Hindi and Marathi, and a few other very 'aamchi Mumbai' things, that's what the Somali pirates, convicted last year for hijacking a fishing vessel that had sailed from Iran in 2011, are taking back home with them. Sentenced to seven years in jail, the bunch was seen being escorted by the Mumbai Police to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport last morning, having completed their term, a majority of it as undertrials.
Rage Risag Abule, 41, one the pirates mid-day spoke to, said, "I was a fisherman, but ships from other countries used to come in our waters and do fishing; those onboard even used to harass us. Hence, we, locals, united and started fighting against them. It was in self-defence, but soon, we were branded as pirates. "I know there aren't many job opportunities back home, but I will still teach my son, and even others, to be a good man and do the right work."
For 37-year-old Boj Jonali, the learning has been the "two faces of the police" here, as he put it. "I am very excited to see my family after so long. But I will also not forget this moment of departure for another reason — getting to see another, humane, face of the police. When we were accused, they treated us like that. But now that we've served our term, they looked after us like guests and spoke to us in a friendly manner."
Need for greed
However, not all of them were branded as pirates incorrectly. According to Ahmad Hasan, 26, he wanted to earn a lot in a short span of time and took the conscious decision of becoming a pirate. "I got arrested when I was 20. I have learnt now that going down the wrong way will never lead to happiness," he said.
Bashir Ahmad, 30, on the other hand, was farming to make ends meet. While life was simple, it wasn't financially strong; and so, he decided to follow his friends, who were becoming pirates, or "sea kings", as they called it. "Without informing anybody at home, I decided to enter this world. I wanted to surprise my family with a lot of money; but in 2011, I was arrested," he recalled.
Mother Abadi, 25, said, "I don't know anything other than fishing. So, once I am back home, I will appeal to the government to take my friends and I in defence forces; we know how pirates function, so we can help the authorities. "Earlier, I only knew one language, the one spoken at home. But seven years in jail taught me Hindi and Marathi."
Total number of pirates convicted last year
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