After two months in captivity, 18 Indian sailors were freed yesterday, when Somali pirates released the hijacked Japanese-owned tanker ‘Stolt Valor’, after a ransom amount that could be as much as $2.5 million (Rs12.50 crore) was paid to them. All the Indian sailors are well, National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) officials have said.
The hijackers had demanded a ransom of $6 million, but were bargained down by NUSI officials, who would not say exactly how much was paid. While the release of the sailors is happy news, the payment of the ransom is not. For it will enable the pirates to acquire more sophisticated arms and better boats to carry on their nefarious activities.
Strangely, negotiations for the release of the ship, carrying 23,818 tonnes of petroleum products, were held in Hong Kong, indicating that the Somali pirates have international mediators. It is high time that the UN, or some other international body, puts together an international task force that can take on the pirates militarily as well as administratively, and put an end to this scourge.