CHENNAI: A day after the rescue of four trainee sailors who were illegally taken in a ship, the city police on Sunday arrested the ship’s captain Pavan Kumar on charges of entering the country without proper documents. The immigration officials on Friday rescued four Indian sailors who were illegally taken in the ship Rise Dignity, which was carrying crude oil, and not declared as a part of the crew. This is a serious violation of the maritime laws.
The four young sailors, who were handed over to the Harbour police, told Express that they were cheated by the job agents. They grew suspicious only when the ship crew insisted that they must hide when the ship reached Indian shore.
The rescued were identified as R Prakash (24) from Cuddalore, P Tejus (25), from Calicut in Kerala, Puneet Bisla (21) from Uttar Pradesh and Suresh Kumar (22) from Andhra Pradesh. “Three months ago, an agent from Calicut took `3.6 lakh from me to get me into a shipping company in Bombay (Mumbai). My father passed away by January and I have an elderly mother and a college-going sister,” said Tejus who is a diploma holder.
Said Prakash, “After getting our jobs in Rise Dignity, we landed in Iran as ‘Ordinary Seaman’ on June 10 and were taken to Khark in Iran. We used to clean tanks, remove oil spills and do other menial jobs. The ship then halted in Syria and Dubai. Every time the ship halted, the captain told us to hide in the engine room.”
Just before arriving at the Chennai harbour, the captain again told the men that they should stay inside. “We were shifted to the engine room on Saturday when the ship docked in Chennai. A ship official used to talk to the immigration officers, and another used to keep us moving, so we don’t get caught,” said Prakash. “After the immigration officials caught us, they told us about the seriousness of travelling without the names on the list.
In Dubai or Syria, they could have tagged us as militants and arrested us,” said Tejus. “A crew should have only 46 members in a commercial ship and the Captain had appointed these four men for cheap labour. They were rescued after the immigration officer found out. While the ship will be docked in the Chennai for a week at least, these men will not be allowed to step down. The crew had 12 Ordinary Seamen altogether. Since they got four more experienced men from Dubai, the company decided to sideline them,” said Inspector Srinivasan from Harbour police station.