Home India News Supreme Court to rule on missing ship

Supreme Court to rule on missing ship

Chennai, July 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court will take up Wednesday the case of a 25-year-old ship that went missing two years ago with 10 Indians and three Ukrainian crew members on board.

Jupiter-6, a foreign flagship registered in Jamaica, has been missing since Aug 8, 2005. It reportedly sank off the Namibian coast. The ship’s agent, Pelmar Shipping, confirmed its disappearance about two months later.

The case, filed through a PIL on behalf of the families of the missing Indians with the help of the Chennai-based Sailors Helpline, is listed before the Supreme Court for Wednesday.

The relatives are now hoping to at least start the process to find out what happened to the 10 Indian men.

Their hope centres on a written statement by Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu May 17 in the Rajya Sabha that listed the number of Indian seafarers who died in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The minister said that five people died in five incidents in 2005, three died in one incident in 2006 and two deaths were reported from two incidents this year involving foreign ships more than 15-years-old.

The Jupiter-6 men were not included in the statistics provided by the minister.

The families of the 10 Indians in Jupiter-6 have also approached External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee besides MPs Suesh Kurup, K.S. Manoj, K. Chandranpillai and N.K. Premachandran for assistance in their search.

Reacting to the statement made by Baalu, Mary Kunju, wife of Jose Mathew Katampally, an electrical officer of Jupiter-6, told IANS: “We have been repeatedly saying, right from the beginning, that Jupiter-6 has not sunk.

“If there was any element of truth in the missing story, then why Jupiter-6 and its crew members were not found in the list of causalities provided to the parliament?

“I have strong faith that my husband is still alive. The minister’s statement has given us a fresh lease of hope,” she said.

Nirmal Kaur, wife of Surjit Singh, chief engineer of Jupiter-6, said: “In our country, no one is bothered about the life of ordinary citizens. It is almost two years since Jupiter-6 and its crew went missing.

“The government does not understand the pain and agony we face every day. One thing I am very sure is that my husband is alive. I waiting for his return,” she said.

Residing in far away Lakshdweep, Sabeeha, the young wife of Hassan Faikage, another Jupiter-6 employee, has put all her trust in god and the Supreme Court. Sabeeha lived with Hassan for just a few months.

“I am anxiously waiting for the Supreme Court to offer help in tracing the missing crew members of Jupiter-6. I am sure the court will help,” she said.

“It is shocking that since 2005 everything related to Jupiter-6 is shrouded in mystery. I am sure my prayers will be answered,” she added.

The Kerala High Court last year ordered relief to the elderly mother of a crew member of Karali, a ship that reportedly sank about 500 km off the port of Margaon in July 1979, taking with it 53 people.

Families now want clear directions from the apex court to the government to clarify on the Jupiter-6 seafarers.

According to the data maintained by the Indian Seafarers Database (INDoS), there are 146,245 registered Indian seafarers.

The exact number of seafarers employed on Indian ships and foreign owned ships are not known. However, the approximate number of Indians working at any point of time on Indian flagships is between 30,000 and 32,000 and on foreign flagships between 52,000 and 54,000.