Thirteen Indian crew members of Bahama-based oil tanker MT Strovolos have sought the help of trade unions against the alleged detention they are facing onboard the ship from Indonesian authorities.

Their union, Forward Seamen’s Union of India (FSUI), has written to the Shipping Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry, demanding diplomatic efforts to help the Indian seamen. At present, the ship is anchored at Batam anchorage in Indonesia.

According to a letter sent by the Indian crew to FSUI, the vessel was about to be released on September 24. But, on September 25, Indonesian Marine Police came onboard Strovolos to arrest all crew on charges of robbery of petroleum products, which is a state property.

‘Scared for life’

They showed the crew red corner notice issued by Interpol as requested by Cambodia government against the crew members. “The crew members are very scared for life. They are mentally and physically tired due to prolong stay at the ship,” FSUI General Secretary, Manoj Yadav, told BusinessLine.

The crew also told the union that they don’t have any contact or connection with the Cambodian government. “The crew members are under mental trauma while facing many enquiries against them by Navy, Coast Guard and police of Indonesia.

“As the crew has already completed their tenure of contract and was waiting to return back home, this incident happened onboard, which has nothing to do with the crew; if charges exist, the main responsibility will go to the charter and other principal authority of vessel,” said Yadav in his letter to Shipping Minister Sarbanand Sonowal. He requested the Minister to assist them with all possible legal support as well as repatriation to their hometowns. “As we have already requested the Ambassador of India in Jakarta via our e-mail dated September 25 for immediate assistance, we are requesting your office too to intervene in such as sensitive matter for the interest of our seafarer brothers,” said Yadav said in the letter.

In a separate letter, CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen told External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar that the family members of the crew are worried and concerned at the plight of the sailors. “If at at all there is any fault or violation, the company (World Tanker Management) and the charterers (KrisEnergy) are to be held responsible for the mess since the vessel moved as directed by the company and charterers only, and the crew members are being subjected to detention and harassment and may be imprisonment also,” he said in the letter, and requested Jaishankar to intervene appropriately for the rescue of the detained lndian seafarers on board and ensure their repatriation back to lndia.