Government Turns Deaf Ear! A Father Left Alone To Fight For His Son Held Hostage
“I am tired, I feel like defeated … but you can’t stop just because you feel defeated… I will continue trying, even though some people say I am fighting for a lost cause, I will have to fight,” are the words of Keval Krishan Sharma (47) – a retired solider who is fighting a lonely battle for release of his only son held hostage by Somali Pirates almost three years back.
Sharma- now a bitter man- for the country that he served for half of the life guarding the borders left him alone in his odd time.
“Being a solider (Never afraid of laying down my life for country) I could not hold back my son when Aman Sharma (22) when he decided to join merchant navy. Had I not let him go,” says Sharma.
“To hell with politicians, to hell with governments,” this is how the bitterness comes out as he breaks down narrating the ordeal the family is facing for last 32 months.
Everything changed for the Sharma family after, Aman of Kardial village in Jwali area of Kangra district was held hostage by Somali pirates on November 16, 2010 from 293 miles west of Maldives in Indian Ocean after they hijacked MV Albedo 9041167 ship of Majestic Enrich Shipping Company of Malaysia in which Aman was working as a crew member.
Since then Sharma has made countless communications with the state government, union external affairs ministry and Director General of Shipping and got back only acknowledgements that his letters have been received and matter is being looked into. Initially, politicians in the State supported him and then they gave up on his case. In between Pakistan secured the release of seven of its citizens by paying off the hijackers while Indian government refrained from negotiations and one of Aman’s friend Raju was killed by the pirates.
“Now whenever I approach the state leaders they behave in such a manner if I am an alien. Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS), Neeraj Bharti who represents my constituency even doesn’t respond to my phone calls,” said Sharma
When Sharma talked to Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh and CPS Neeraj Bharti last time this year he was assured that his son will be released soon with 42 other hostages and centre is negotiating with hijackers.
Indian government secured the release of 35 by paying the ransom early this year within months of their abduction but not Aman who is living in the hell for last three years.
“Aman called up on 8th of last month and it was for first time that he broke down. He told that some person named Shakil Ahemd negotiated with the pirates and settled the deal at Rs. 1 crore for his release but is now not picking up the phone,” said Sharma.
When Sharma enquired about the person he was told that negotiator was not sent by government and enquiry is being ordered into the matter.
“This bogus negotiation has added to the ordeal of my son who is being subjected to immense physical torture and is was not given food for five days,” told panicked Sharma. Sharma says he has not a bit of hope from the Indian government as it is trying to sidestepping from its responsibility towards his son.
Youth Organisation to move Supreme Court on Aman’s issue
Meanwhile, moved by the sufferings of the family a youth organization will move Supreme Court with a plea to direct the government to ensure the safe return of Aman Sharma.
Prayukti Youth Organisations (PYO) with its headquarter at Baijnath met the family recently and will be filing a PIL in the apex court for Aman’s release.
PYO Chairman Pranav Ghabroo said the government’s responsibility towards a citizen doesn’t end if he is out of the country. “Government’s inaction on the issue is breach of right to life and other fundamental right Aman has and the points will be bases of PIL we are going to file,” said Ghabroo.
He said United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS) provides the framework for the repression of piracy under international law and affected country could take any step to repress such activity in sea or enter into negotiation with pirates with the help of country where the incident has taken place that too without any prior permission. “Still nothing has been done in Aman’s case,” he added.