Friends, have you ever imagined yourself cooped up in a ship for no less than 146 days and 199 days with no respite on sight of touching the land any time soon? Well, it has actually happened to the crew members of merchant ships MV Anastasia who have been stranded near Caefeidian port and another carrier MV Jag Anand stranded near Jingtang port respectively. Both the ports belong to China. The arrival of these ships coincided with an escalating altercation between China and Australia which eventually led to a ban on coal imports from the latter. Unfortunately the above cargos happenned to carry coals and were denied entry by the Chinese authorities. China said this is because of Covid prevention. But surprisingly it has allowed the ships from Russia, Canada and Europe to offload and leave. Among the 18 and 20 crew members of both the ships most of them are Indian and china is using them as leverage to earn upper hand vis a vis the frosty relation with India.
Now I relate to you what an enormous physical and psychological pressure those hapless men are finding themselves in:
1. Temperature drops to -3 degree celcius at night.
2. Though food supply have sufficed the water is contaminated.
3. Many on board have developed skin infections.
4. Stocks come just a month.
5. Medical supplies are restricted to just painkillers.
6. No docter visit can be arranged unless “someone is dying “.
What has kept them going are the lag- disrupted voice calls with their families. The navigation officer Gaurav Singh of MV Anastasia, 29, told ‘The Times of India’, that a crew member attempted suicide but was saved on time. He also added that about 1,480 seafarers, many of whom are Indians, are stuck in 74 ships near Chinese ports.
I just cannot fathom, why such inhuman treatment is meted out to the innocent civilians as if they are some kind of prisoners of war. Why they are sucked into the vortex of world politics and considered no more than mere pawns to stay in advantageous position while negotiating with the countries they belong? Is it ethically right to confine them like ransoms, in the guise of adhering to so called government protocols?
Friends new year is just a day away, let’s pray to God, good sense prevail on those it matters and they are released and united with their near and dear ones.
I wish you all health and happiness. Adieu for now.