New Delhi, Jun 24 : After 10 months in the captivity of Somali pirates, six Indian sailors of M V Suez vessel touched down on home soil today to an emotional welcome from family members.
The sailors came by an Emirates flight from Dubai which landed at IGI Airport at 9.36 am and were received by family and friends carrying garlands.
Relatives broke down in tears at the sight of the rescued sailors as their children carried placards that read 'Thank you Ansar Burney uncle, we love you', in a reference to the Pakistani human rights activist who facilitated their release from the sea brigands.
Closely holding his three-year-old son, Ravinder Singh Bhulia, one of the released crew members who hails from Rohtak, said, "Indian and Pakistani media helped us a lot. As far as the Indian government's role in the release, I don't want to comment on it".
With tears rolling down her cheeks, his wife Champa said, "The pain would never go".
Another released crew member Prashant Chauhan said, "I am very happy. I waited for this moment for 10 months".
The Indians were part of the 22 member crew, including four Pakistanis, a Sri Lankan and 11 Egyptians, who were freed last week after ransom was paid to the Somali pirates.
The crew of the MV Suez was brought to Karachi yesterday by Pakistan Navy warship PNS Zulfiqar, which had picked up sailors from the waters off Oman.The MV Suez had sank somewhere off the coast of Oman after running out of fuel.
There was no government representative to receive them at the airport.
N K Sharma, another released crew member, said, "Whatever Pakistan government has done is really praiseworthy. We don't know what Indian government did or did not but Pakistan government has treated us well."
Recounting his ordeal, Sharma said they starved for many days and on some days they just got water.
"We used to get boiled rice, spaghetti and potato once a week," he said.
Family members of the released men thanked Burney for facilitating the release of the sailors, but complained that the Indian government did little to save the sailors.
"Government did nothing to help the sailors. We had to run from pillar to post asking for help. We are indebted to Burney," Surinder Kaur, the mother of one of the released crew member Satnam Singh, said.
Six-year-old Nandita, daughter of N K Sharma said, "We are so happy that papa has come back. We thank Burney uncle".
Champa, who had staged a dharna in front of Rahul Gandhi's house several months back demanding government intervention, said, "The Indian government said they could not do anything because they were helpless but if a Pakistani rights activist could do it, why could not they. Even the human rights organisation and NGOs did nothing".
"Pakistani is usually related to terror but the role the country played in bringing back our loved ones proves the theory wrong," said an overwhelmed Champa.
Biju, who was aboard the hijacked ship, said "I can't wait to be back with my family".
The six Indian crew members released included N K Sharma from Jammu, Ravinder Singh Bhulia from Rohtak, Sachin from Mumbai, Satnam Singh from Ambala and Prashant Chauhan from Shimla and Biju. PTI