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Indian sailor stranded for a year goes home 

By Matters India Reporter

Dubai: After literally being at sea for over a year, a young Indian sailor from Uttarakhand was rescued by the UAE Federal Transport Authority (FTA) on November 21 thanks to the intervention of Indian Consulate in Dubai and social worker Girish Pant.

Nirmal Singh Rawat from Dehradun said he joined the diesel tanker Hamed 2 in July 2016 hoping to earn a salary of US$2000. But the 26-year-old found he had been cheated by the owners of the vessel, just like the other crew. When they learnt that the owner of the ship had been arrested, all other crew members signed off in December 2016 without pay.

But Rawat stayed on, hoping to get paid. The ship was anchored in the deep sea eight nautical miles (15 km) away from UAE’s Khalid Port, near Sharjah. Fighting extreme weather conditions, he lived for a year all alone in the tanker that had no electricity and minimal food and water.

Rawat said that he used to sleep on the ship’s deck in the summer months because the humidity inside the vessel was unbearable. He told the media that he used to eat only once in three days, saving the food he received from passing by ships before authorities started supplying him with provisions of late.

He would communicate with the authorities occasionally to complain about his condition after sailors from ships passing by helped him to charge his phone. The blacked-out vessel was hit by passing fibre boats twice at night and the rusted shackle of the anchor chain broke a few weeks ago, which made authorities hasten his rescue operation.

Rawatl said his repeated appeals to be rescued were heard after he contacted social worker Pant who has been involved in helping stranded sailors. “I wouldn’t have survived without the constant assurance and motivation given by Girish Pant that I will go home one day.”

Girish said he was extremely worried about Rawat’s condition and kept offering him moral support to prevent him from taking any extreme step. “I salute his grit and optimism. Though he was in such a terrible state, he never lost his calm.”

The Indian Consulate in Dubai has helped repatriate 214 Indian sailors in the past six months, according to Consul-General Vipul. He praised the efforts of FTA and Sharjah Port Authority in supporting the rescue efforts of sailors abandoned by their companies.

He added that recruitment of sailors should take place only through directorate-general of shipping in India, licensed/registered recruitment and placement services (RPS) entities and the e-migrate system. The consulate on its website (www.cgidubai.org) has advised sailors to apply due diligence before accepting any employment offer to work on ships and not to fall for the traps of unscrupulous agents.

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