We will celebrate Diwali now: hijacked ship captain’s wife

By Sharat Pradhan, IANS,

New Delhi : “We will celebrate Diwali now”, said a visibly excited Seema Goyal, hijacked ship Stolt Valour captain’s wife, whose relentless battle was a major contributor to the release of the cargo ship that was captured by Somali pirates two months ago.

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Seema, who arrived here from her home in Dehradun Monday along with her entire family, is anxiously awaiting the return of her husband Captain Prabhat Goyal after a 64-day long ordeal.

“Prabhat will land at Delhi airport around 4 a.m Tuesday – which is going to be the most cherished moment of my life,” she remarked while hugging her 11-year-old daughter Ayushi, who has gathered garlands and bouquets of all hues to welcome her Papa.

The family will be at the airport well in advance – keep awake the whole night – and accord a hero’s welcome to their captain.

“We propose to stay on for at least a day in Delhi, where we have a lot of commitments to carry out – foremost being an expression of our gratitude to the media for getting our voice heard in the corridors of power. Then we will return to our home in Dehradun, where a true homecoming awaits Prabhat,” she said.

“We hardly took note of Diwali as it came and went – and while everyone lit up their houses with ‘diyas’, candles and colourful lights, there were no festivities for us; our Diwali begins with Prabhat’s return tomorrow,” she added.

“Once we reach our Dehradun home with Prabhat, we will celebrate Diwali and announce his homecoming with crackers and colourful lights,” she said.

The Stolt Valour, owned by a Japanese company and managed by Fleet Marine Ltd in Mumbai, was hijacked by armed Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Sep 15. The pirates had demanded a ransom of $6 million for the release of the crew but were understood to have later settled for $2.5 million.

The ship was freed Nov 16 and four of the crew reached India Monday.

Seema had been shell-shocked when her husband informed her over the satellite phone that his ship had been hijacked. She left no stone unturned to contact the prime minister, the defence minister, external affairs minister as well as her husband’s employer shipping company.

“I cannot tell you how delighted I am that not only the ship but its entire crew has been saved,” she said.

She is full of gratitude for all those who have helped her. “Had it not been for the support of the media and some people in the government as well as the shipping industry, my efforts would have never borne fruit,” she said.