Five Indian sailors stranded in Iran, seek PM’s help to return home

Five Indian sailors stranded in Iran have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help them get back to India and act against agents who duped them in the name of giving employment abroad, informed the Indian World Forum on Monday.

In a statement, the President of the forum, Puneet Singh said: “I have received concerning and distress messages seeking assistance from five Indian seafarers who are stranded at Chabahar, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Iran for approximately two years.”

The stranded Indian nationals are Aniket Sham Yenpure (29), Mandar Milind Worlikar (26), both from Maharashtra; Naveen Singh (26) from Uttarakhand, Pranav Kumar (22) from Bihar, and Thamizhselvan Rengasamy (30) from Tamil Nadu.

In a video message the seafarers said that they were arrested from the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian authorities on February 21, 2020 allegedly for smuggling of drugs.

“We had been in jail almost 400 days in a fraud case. Despite being released on March 9, Iranian authorities have not given our passports and documents. We are facing difficulties,” one of the men said in the video message.

“We are in very bad condition here. These agents duped us and send us. I request to the Indian government to act against them so that no one else will suffer what we are suffering here,” they added.

The men further said that the captain of the vessel has testified before courts and the investigators repeatedly that he had masterminded the plot to smuggle narcotics and the five Indian seafarers had no role in it.

The sailors, including their families, have made repeated requests to the concerned authorities to provide appropriate assistance. However, their appeals have not been examined and considered in detail.

On March 8, 2021, the local court in Chabahar had found them innocent, and ordered their immediate release.

“These seafarers have not only been duped by their respective Recruitment & Placement Services Agents in India who in collusion with their International partners promised them hefty pay jobs in Gulf but also each of them has been extorted to the tune of Rs 500,000 as charges towards arranging overseas employment. They have been fooled and cheated at large as they were assured of employment with shipping companies in United Arab Emirates etc but on the contrary they were diverted midway to Iran and directed to join an Iranian employer who has not even paid a single remuneration to them till date,” said the statement further.

The sailors have also been threatened with dire consequences by their recruitment and placement services agents including their partners for lodging any complaint against them with competent authorities, the statement further said.

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