By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on April 28, 2011:
CHENNAI: Hundreds of mariners affiliated to various seafarers’unions and ship owners associations on Wednesday took out a rally in the maritime capital of the country, Mumbai, and submitted a petition to the Directorate General of Shipping demanding that steps be taken to protect Indian seafarers from pirates.Abdul Gani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI), who spoke to Express over phone from Mumbai, said, “We demand that the government take more effective measures to combat piracy. The matter has to be addressed at the level of the United Nations.”Meanwhile, about 100 mariners gathered at the Seafarers Club here and expressed their anguish over continuing piracy incidents.They also sent a detailed representation to their colleagues in Mumbai to add with the main petition, which was handed over to the DG of Shipping at the end of the rally.In September last year, Somalian pirates hijacked the Panama-flagged vessel ‘Asphalt Venture’, with 15 Indian crew members on board. Even though the pirates received the ransom they demanded, they took away with them seven of the crew. The ship, along with the remaining eight crew, including the vessel’s captain, were released. As Serang put it, “This is an unprecedented situation and has raised serious questions. The lives of innocent seafarers are in danger.”He also warned that there is a strong possibility of a collective international boycott by seafarers from countries like Philippines, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh if the issue is not addressed immediately.Members of the Maritime Union of India, Indian National Ship Owners Association, Foreign Owners Representatives, Ship Managers Association, Maritime Association of Ship Owners, Company of Master Mariners of India and other related associations took part.