23 fishermen freed from captivity in Iran
Dubai - Sources said the fishing boats were owned by UAE-based businesses.
By Dhanusha Gokulan
Published: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 7:00 PM
Last updated: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 9:26 PM
A total of 23 fishermen working on board UAE boats were released after spending over five months in captivity in Iran, Khaleej Times has found.
The men - all Indian nationals - were detained for 'illegally entering' Iran's waters during a fishing expedition and were held at the Kish Port since July 2018.
This is the second batch of sailors returning to the UAE as a total of 29 arrests in four separate boats were made in July and August last year.
The first batch of six sailors from Tamil Nadu was released on November 25, 2018, according to officials of the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Dubai. Out of the 23 sailors in the second batch, 18 were from Karnataka and five were from Maharashtra.
Sources said the fishing boats were owned by UAE-based businesses.
"Based on the information received from the Indian Consulate in Bandar Abbas and the Indian Embassy in Tehran, all 23 fishermen were released and two boats, carrying the numbers 378 and 1717, departed for the UAE at 3:00pm on January 9," said a CGI official.
The fishermen were expected to arrive in the country on the same day or by January 10.
"We have been in contact with the missions in Iran. The UAE boat owners were also very supportive, and a lawyer was engaged to release the men from captivity," the official said.
The mission also suggested that the release may come with a number of legal complications as one fisherman tried to escape from detention.
Lobbying for the fishermen's release, several community leaders had approached the CGI in Dubai for help.
Syed Khaleel, senior member of the Karnataka NRI Forum, said a memorandum prepared by the community was submitted to the consul-general in mid-2018 to expedite the release of the men.
"Since many of them were from Karnataka, I and a few community members went to meet the consul-general. An application was made to the foreign ministry. The issue was that some of the men were in captivity in the boats and some were in jail," Khaleel said.
He said he is glad that the case has been resolved and the men can return home.
The fishermen who were released included Mohammed Shareef, Usman Bombaikar, Abdullah Dangi, Atikur Rahman Gharu, Jaffar Tadlikar, Khalil Panibodu, Nayeem Bhandi, Ibrahim Mullah, M Ansar Babu, Yakub Shamali, Ilyas Ambadi, Inayat Shamali, Ilyas Gharu, Ajmal Shamali, Ibrahim Hodekar, Matlub Sarang, Kashim Shaikh and Abdal Hussain.