A shipping crew including 14 Indians, 5 Bangladeshis and one Egyptian which has been confined in Yemen for the last 10 months was at last released safely. Dr Dhananjay Datar, CMD, Al Adil Trading LLC, UAE who is popularly known as Masala King, took painstaking efforts to make this rescue possible by keeping a follow up and continuous communication with the Indian Embassy in Djibouti which is close to Yemen.
Dr Datar has also donated a sum of Rs 20,000 each as an emergency help to these penniless workers. The group of 14 Indian sailors is expected to return home via Aden by this weekend. The Indian Embassy in Djibouti is working hard to get temporary passports and visa documents for these workers.
The 14 Indian sailors travelled from Mumbai to Muscat last January to work for an Oman based shipping company. There they were accompanied by 6 other sailors from Bangladesh and Egypt. Since the shipping company got a contract from KSA, the crew started their first voyage on 2 ships on February 3 to Yanbu port of KSA.
On February 12, the sea turned turbulent and sank one ship. Fortunately the crew members of the sunken ship were rescued in time and their journey continued through another ship, but soon the weather turned rough and cyclonic which forced the ship to anchor on the spot. They didn’t know that the anchor point was actually in a war prone zone and also within the maritime border of Yemen. As a result the Yemeni Coast Guards arrested the entire crew and confined them in a hotel in Sana city for further enquiry. Their passports, documents, cell phones and cash were seized.
The group spent six months in isolation in the hotel expecting their employer to take efforts for their rescue, but nothing happened and their hopes began to diminish. They couldn’t even contact the outside world as their cell phones were confiscated. At last a couple of months ago they were allowed to communicate with their families. Their deplorable plight then came to light through media.
Coincidentally, Dr Datar had recently helped rescue 700 Indian workers detained in KSA and his noble efforts were widely appreciated on social media. Some friends of the confined Indian sailors called Dr Datar and requested him to help the rescue in this case too. Datar sprang into action and called Vipul, who was the former Consul General of India in Dubai and now in MEA, New Delhi. Since India doesn’t have an embassy in Yemen he communicated with Ashok Kumar, Indian ambassador to Djibouti, a neighbouring country of Yemen. Dr Datar got precious help from Ashok Kumar along with former senior ambassador Dyaneshwar Mulay, Dhanashree Patil (Pune) and Dr Sunil Manjarekar (Dubai) in his mission.
The Indian workers includes six Maharashtrians named Sandeep Lohar and Nilesh Lohar (Kolhapur), Fairoz Zari (Ratnagiri), Ahmed Wakankar (Dapoli), Tanmay Mane (Alibaug), Dawood Jivarak (Dapoli); the others being Chetan Gawas (Goa), Maniraj Marippan, Mohanraj Thanigchalam and William Nicamden (Tamil Nadu), Pravin T. (Puducherry), Abdul Mustaba (Kerala), Hiron Seikh Siddiki (West Bengal) and Sanjeev Kumar (UP). All the 20 sailors were highly relieved after being released from 10 months of confinement. They thanked Dr Datar and expressed their gratitude with tears in their eyes.
Nilesh Lohar described the pathetic plight of him and his colleagues. He said, “It was a nightmare to spend 10 months in confinement for nothing on a foreign soil. We were starving as the daily meal contained only Dal-rice and a cup of tea. We were interrogated many times. The Yemeni guards confiscated everything we had. Each of us had paid a sum of Rs. one lakh to three lakh to the agent for this job and it is lost now. Even the employee company hasn’t paid our salary yet. We are penniless now. We owe gratitude to Dr. Datar who provided us some financial relief as an emergency help. We will never forget his charity and humanity. We are all eagerly waiting to meet our families.”
Dr Datar also expressed happiness over the release and smilingly said, “Our Al Adil Group has rescued and evacuated more than 5,000 jobless and penniless Indian workers stranded in the GCC region to their homeland. I have done nothing great. I am determined to help my countrymen who are stranded in a foreign land under challenging circumstances. I wish them to reach home safely and unite with their families. In this case, I am highly thankful to Ashok Kumar and other embassy staff and also Dyaneshwar Mulay who took great efforts to rescue the sailors. I have heard that the employer company has not provided the promised salary of these workers. I will contact the Ministry of Labour of Oman in this matter and will ensure that the workers get legal help and justice.”