CHENNAI/SALEM: A Kuwaiti ship captain hailing from Salem has reportedly been illegally detained in a cabin on the same vessel for the past two weeks by the shipping company he works for. The ship is now at the Yu Lin shipyard in Shenzhen, China. According to information available with the Sailors’ Helpline, a Chennai-based organisation supporting seafarers’ rights, A Elangovan, who recently took charge as captain of a Kuwaiti-flag vessel M V Hussa Al Ghamim, has been locked up in his cabin by the superintendent of the Kuwaiti company on charges of being drunk on duty and not discharging his duties properly.
V Manoj Joy, founder and national coordinator, Sailors’ Helpline, told Express that company official Jaleel, a Pakistani national, had locked Elangovan up for the past two weeks, illegally. If they had problems with his conduct, the company should have immediately informed the manning firm that helped them hire Capt Elangovan. “They could have sent him home immediately. Detaining him is illegal,” Manoj added.
Sailors’ Helpline first approached the Directorate General of Shipping, but there was hardly any response, Manoj said. He then approached the Ministry of External Affairs. “According to information reaching here, officials from the Indian Mission in China visited the ship at the Yu Lin shipyard. We are waiting for favourable news,” Manoj maintained.
In Salem, Elangovan’s relatives hoped for the best, keeping their fingers crossed. “The issue has been resolved and the process of his release and safe return to India is on,” claimed A Alagu, brother of the sailor, an assistant engineer in the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Salem. “We expect him to be back with us in a couple of days.”
Speaking to Express, Alagu said his family learnt about his brother’s predicament only last Friday through a news report, adding that he was not fully aware of the charges slapped against his brother. “From what we learnt through his merchant navy fraternity who have launched efforts to get him released, we understand it was an illegal detention based on misinformation.” Alagu was referring to Chennai and Puducherry-based ship captains who have taken efforts through their international fraternal networks to get him released.
An engineering graduate from the Government Engineering College, Karupur in Salem, Elangovan has been captaining merchant ships since 1991. He had signed a contract with the present company barely six months ago.
A native of Navalur village in Attur taluk, Elangovan has two daughters who are in classes IV and VII respectively at a school in Salem town.