Priyanka Chaturvedi, veteran leader of the Shiv Sena and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP), on Monday (January 11) issued a press note in context to the fact that two cargo vessels with Indian sailors on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters for the past seven months.
While Chaturvedi expressed her joy at the news of the return of twenty-three Indian sailors aboard one of the ships, she also conveyed her concern regarding the seafarers stuck in the other, which still awaits a change in crew.
For the uninitiated, the two cargo vessels with Indian sailors on board -- the ships MV Jag Anand, with 23 Indian sailors, and MV Anastasia, with 16 Indian sailors -- have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo, though some other ships have managed to do so.
New Delhi has been holding diplomatic talks with Beijing to ensure that the Indian sailors stuck in China are brought back safely, as soon as possible. While a breakthrough has been reached for the MV Jag Anand, the Indian sailors aboard which are set to return on January 14, the other ship -- MV Anastasia -- still awaits any positive news on its front.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi on this day stated that she had been raising the issue of the return of the Indian sailors with the central government since July 20, and that she was happy to see it reach a positive conclusion after all this while.
"I was in constant touch with some of our seafarers on board and they were really worried, this news will thrill them," she said, thanking Union Ministers S Jaishankar and Mansukh Manvadiya, as well as other embassy officials of India and China for ensuring safe passage of the sailors.
"However, the sefarers stranded on MV Anastasia still await the happy news of their return. The Anastasia has been docked at China's Bohai Sea and they will await permission for change of crew," Chaturvedi said, expressing her concern for the Indian sailors aboard the second cargo vessel.
She appealed to the central government to ensure the safe return of all the Indian seafarers who have been stranded in Chinese waters for the last seven months.
"I will continue to pursue this with the relevant authorities till all our remaining sailors are brought back home," the Shiv Sena MP said.
Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for ports, shipping and waterways, said on Saturday that the cargo ship MV Jag Anand is set to sail towards Chiba in Japan and that the twenty-three Indian sailors aboard the vessel will return to their country on January 14.
"Our seafarers stuck in China are coming to India. Ship MV Jag Anand, having 23 Indian crew, stuck in China is set to SAIL toward Chiba, Japan, to carry out crew change, will reach India on 14th January," the ports, shipping and waterways minister had said in a tweet.
He also said this could be made possible only due to the strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mandaviya also acknowledged "the humanitarian approach of the Great Eastern Shipping Company towards the seafarers and standing by them in this crucial time!"
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said that bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 and it has 23 Indian sailors.
Another vessel, MV Anastasia with 16 Indian nationals as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, waiting for discharge of its cargo, he had said at a media briefing.
"Our Embassy in Beijing has been in constant touch with provincial and central government authorities in China, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed," he had said.
China had on December 25 said that there is no 'link' between the stranded Indian ship crew on its Chinese ports and its strained relations with India and Australia.
The statement had come a day after the External Affairs Ministry had said that two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo.
Asked about India's concern relating to the Indian crew members of the ships and whether China's decision on this issue has related to the current situation between India, China and Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin had last week told a media briefing that "we stated repeatedly that China has clear stipulations on quarantine measures".
"Concerning this, China has stayed in close communication with the Indian side and responding to their requests as well as providing necessary assistance for them," he had said.
"As far as I understand, China allows the crew change while meeting certain quarantine conditions. But this Jingtang port is not in the list for such crew changes," he had said but did not refer to the 16 crew members of Caofeidian port.
China last month had blamed the freight forwarder of Jag Anand ship for the impasse, saying he is not letting the ship to leave.
(With inputs from agencies)