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Savish Singh Thakur from Punjab and his fellow three Indian nationals, Rajesh Kumar, Ali Mondel, and Ram Sowrop, from Bihar, West Bengal and Rajastan respectively, all four are seafarers contracted to work on a ship called ‘Janan’ owned by an Iranian national called ‘Mohammed Ganif Abadi’ and managed by ‘Abu Shehen’.

The ship was captained by a fellow Iranian called ‘Masood Khalif’.

The Janan arrived at a Kuwaiti port on the 13th of May 2013 where all four men including the Captain, Massood Khalif were arrested for the alleged illegal importation of contraband diesel. The five men were detained in Police custody and three of the Indian nationals continue to remain in detention since the 13th of May 2013. Whilst the Iranian Captain Masood Khalif remained at liberty until May 2015 when he managed to leave Kuwait without having to answer the charges laid against him.

Savish Singh Thakur is confined to house arrest at the address of his sponsor and his fellow nationals are in Poice custody.

Captain Masood Khalif had maintained that the diesel was fuel surplus reserve stock to power the ship ‘Janan’.

Despite being subject to legal proceedings, the Indian nationals have not been informed of the charges against them or served with copies of the charge sheets and/or with copies of the pleadings. The Irainian Captain attended all Court hearings and was provided with legal representation by the Iranian ship owners whilst the Indian nationals were unrepresented and denied the opportunity to appear before the Court to learn of the case against them and present their defence. They genuine fear now that the Captain of the ship has fled (believed to have returned to his home country Iran), court proceedings will be directed against them in place of the Captain and the Iranian owners of the ship both of who were ultimately responsible for the ship.

The Indian Mission in Kuwait has failed to provide the men Consular support and legal advice since their arrest in May 2013 to date. The Mission continues to be oblivious to the plight of their fellow nationals and they have to date ignored all requests to intervene and support their nationals.

The men confirm that they are further pressured by the Kuwaiti officials as well as members of the public they come across  to convert from their faith to the Muslim faith. Some of these people have shown willingless to help these men on the condition that they convert.

This is yet another case of Indian nationals exploited abroad, in particular by their employers in the Gulf region and a failure by the Indian mission in Kuwait to attend to the Indian nationals and providing Consular support and offer provisions for legal advice. This lack lustre approach by the Indian authorities begs the question why they fail to support their fellow nationals. The fundamental sign of a civilised and democratic country is how it treats and supports its nationals.

Further reading:

Times of India 30/10/2014

 

 

 

 

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