The Centre on Sunday it was working to ensure the early release of 18 Indian crew members of a British tanker that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.
“Team MEA is already working on the early release and repatriation of all 18 Indian crew members of Stena Impero,” said Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar. “Our Embassy in Tehran is in constant contact with Iranian authorities to resolve this. We will keep you posted on further developments.”
The minister was responding to a tweet from the office of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. “Media reports have indicated that the crew of the British tanker seized by Iran includes 4 Malayalis,” the Chief Minister’s Office had said on Saturday. “Following this, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has contacted the Union Government. He has also sent a message to Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs GoI.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the tanker called Stena Impero with 23 crew members for allegedly violating international maritime regulations. However, AFP reported that the tanker had collided with a fishing boat. Britain, however, claimed that Iran had captured not one but two ships in the Persian Gulf.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said on Saturday that diplomatic efforts were on to secure the release of Indian nationals on board the ship, Manorama News reported. “We are waiting for response from Iranian authorities,” he had added.
Congress MP Hibi Eden, representing the Ernakulam constituency in the Lok Sabha, also sought the Centre’s intervention. Eden visited the family of Dijo Pappachan, a crew member on board Stena Impero, in Kochi. Pappachan’s family said the tanker’s owners had informed them that he was on board the ship.
India is also in talks with Iran to free at least 12 nationals on board another foreign-flagged ship detained by Iranian authorities last week, The Hindu reported on Sunday. “We are currently expecting response to our note verbale that we sent on Sunday,” said an unidentified official. “They have our citizens from both Stena Impero, which was detained on Saturday, and also MT Riah, which was detained last week.”