‘For failing to increase speed, our chief engineer had his ear sliced off’
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Seven months after we were taken captive, the pirates threatened to sell our kidneys and hearts if no ransom was forthcoming. Shortly after, our third officer Wagdi Akram committed suicide. Our captain pleaded the body be handed over to his family, but the pirates refused. The next four months we kept the body in a freezer meant for storing meat and fish, till we ran out of diesel. A commander of the pirates then ordered the body be thrown into the ocean," recalled Ganesh Mohite (26), a seaman from Kopar Khairane in Navi Mumbai.
He and four other Indian seamen were among 24 crew members of Panama-lagged vessel MV Iceberg 1, owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping Company, held captive for 33 months by Somali pirates - one of the longest - till they were released on December 23 last year in a Puntland Maritime Forces Operation.
The vessel was hijacked on March 29, 2010, about 10 nautical miles off the port of Eden in Yemen outside International Recommended Transit Corridor.
Each of them has horror stories to tell of the physical and mental torture they were subjected to in captivity.
Swapnil Jadhav of Sangli in Maharashtra, Jaswinder Singh of Haryana, S P Saji Kumar of Kerala and Santosh Kumar Yadav of UP attended a 'trauma healing workshop' in Mumbai over the weekend with families.
The workshop was organised by Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) that provides support to seafarers and families affected by piracy and armed robberies.
Conducted by psychiatrist Harish Shetty and his team of doctors Saturday and Sunday, the sessions include supportive counseling, skill-building, network creating and providing access to health services. Participants engage in role-plays, discussions, exercises and simulated learning, including of spiritual aspects.
"If you block your mind, your body will explode. Open your mind and share your story to be healed by a release of energy," said Shetty.
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