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Sunday, July 3, 2011
Ex-PIRATES HOSTAGES: ‘My country didn’t care about me’
An occasional nightmare can be coped with, but one that lasts 11 long months is hard to imagine. That’s what the ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates was for us sailors aboard the MV Suez.
After the hijack, we were praying for our lives every morning. The ruthless pirates would have starved us to death if they had not been paid the ransom. After being rescued from them, the meaning of life has changed for me. Now, I can understand how important it is to cherish every moment with your loved ones.
I have been a sailor for a decade now. It’s ironic that while I have visited more than 40 countries during my years of travel, I don’t ever want to board a ship again. I’d rather start a business of my own. When I left India last year, I never imagined the horror that I would face. We left Karachi port on MV Suez and were moving towards Eritrea when our ship was hijacked on August 2 last year. We tried so hard to fend off the pirates with fire-hoses and signal rockets, but we were no match for them. They were wild and ruthless. They handcuffed us, pushed us inside the ship, and took us captive.
In the months of captivity, I suffered like a prisoner of war. The pirates would give us one meal a day, usually spaghetti, boiled rice and a few potatoes. There was no water to drink, so we had to depend on rainwater. The food was boiled and we used seawater to add salt in our food. If anyone angered the pirates, we would not be given food for many days. My hands were untied twice a day, when I would eat and when I had to use the toilet. The first four months were especially hard. They didn’t give us phones to contact our families during that time.
The pirates were addicted to some kind of narcotic grass called kath and they often drank. On some days, the inebriated pirates would beat us up with the butts of their AK-47 rifles. In the last days of our captivity, they even started firing their rifles inches away from us. Every time, I would think the next bullet would hit my head and I’d never see my wife and child again. The pirates were reckless and fired indiscriminately. Encounters with death were a daily routine for us.
Why nobody cares to nominate Ansar Burney to the Nobel Peace Prize?