Journalist stranded on island with five seamen

DUBAI — A Dubai-based freelance journalist was stranded on Qeshm island in Iran after his passport and visa were allegedly seized by a hotel manager while he was trying to gather information about the travails of the people who visit the island for visa change purposes.

By Riyasbabu

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Published: Mon 3 Apr 2006, 11:23 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:47 PM

Vijay Dandige told Khaleej Times over telephone from the island yesterday that one of the hotel officials took his passport and visa and threatened him while he was interviewing five seamen from India who are stuck on the island for one month.

"I told them that I am a journalist and it’s my job to get information. They, however, said that I was allegedly spying in the country and would refer me to higher authorities. However, they did not do any physical harm to me but they tortured me mentally," said Dandige.

Dandige travelled from Dubai to Qeshm island on March 31 for change of his visa.

"While I waited for my visa to come for over two days, I was thinking of returning back to Dubai, but got stuck in this problem,” he said. "I don't think I violated any law of the country while in Qeshm island,” he added, claiming that while he was there for visa change, he learnt of the problems faced by the five stranded seamen.

“I was trying to talk to them and collecting information from them when the hotel manager prevented me from doing so and forcibly took away my passport and other documents. I was supposed to fly back to Dubai at 9am yesterday, but after the problems created by the hotel staff, I have no idea when I can leave the island. But I hope to leave the island at the earliest,” he said.

Dandige noted that five Indian seamen stranded on the island for one month are struggling without money.

"They paid between Dh10,000 to Dh20,000 to an agent in India to get jobs as seamen in Dubai. They came to Dubai but did not get any job. Three months later they left Ajman under difficult conditions," he said, disclosing that the agent sent them to the island for visa change but has not yet sent them their UAE visa. Now they are in a difficult situation and they do not know what they should do.

"I was trying to help them by collecting information to write about their plight. But, this has put me in a difficult spot,'' he said.

A source at the hotel claimed: "Dandige's passport and visa were impounded by some officials who are watching foreigners present on the island. But, we have solved the problem and he will fly back to Dubai soon,” the source added.

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