Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 8
The Indian Ambassador to Beijing Vikram Misri has provided options to the Chinese government to resolve the grave humanitarian crises facing 41 Indian sailors stuck on two “floating prisons” off the Chinese coast for nearly six months due to an escalating trade conflict between China and Australia.
Misri met the Vice Minister of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing while the External Affairs Ministry is in contact with the Chinese embassy here for an early crew change on the two ships, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said at a news briefing here on Friday.
Meanwhile, industrialist Naveen Jindal has offered to buy the coal on the ships so that the sailors could be moved to Indian ports along with the cargo.
“We are ready to buy the coal on these ships if it can help bring our sailors back home,” he posted on social media.
In view of the strict pandemic control measures, the Chinese authorities have outlined detailed steps for smooth movement of crew. These have to be complied with by concerned shipping companies.
“Details for this option being worked out and we will continue to remain in touch with the Chinese authorities as well as with shipping companies so that their humanitarian needs are taken care of,” added Srivastava.
The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has already sought details from MEA and related ministries for action taken for the release of Indian sailors stranded in Chinese waters.
“It appears that the rights to life, dignity, equality and liberty of Indian seafarers have been trampled down by a Member nation of UN in derogation of international human rights law and International covenants applicable in the field of human rights,” the NHRC has said.
The sailors have been stranded onboard MV Anastasia and MV Jag Anand in Chinese waters for over 147 days now.
About 70 ships full of Australian coal but manned by foreign seafarers have been waiting at Chinese ports since June last year. Beijing has refused to let them unload but importers and ship charterers want the ships to wait.
“It is like a food delivery guy being hammered in a fight between neighbours,” Abdulgani Serang, Secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India, said.