NEW DELHI: India is in touch with Beijing over its vessels stuck in Chinese waters and called for “urgent, practical and time-bound” assistance to 39 stranded sailors considering the “grave” humanitarian situation developing in the ships, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.
Taking suo-motu cognisance of media reports, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said Indian sailors stranded on board two ships for over 146 days, and without any rescue mission in sight, amounted to the human rights violation.
The NHRC issued notices to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Ports, calling for reports in the matter. The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 last year with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board. Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indians as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20. Both these vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo.
“There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay. Given this and our concern for the increasingly difficult conditions for our crew members, these two cases are being pursued vigorously,” said the ministry. The Indian embassy in Beijing has taken up the cases both with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local provincial authorities, the ministry said.
“China has conveyed that on account of various Covid-19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change is not being permitted from these ports... The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously,” it said. The Indian embassy is in touch with authorities in Tianjin for approvals to facilitate the crew change from there.