Five Punjab youths languishing in Greek jails, families seek government intervention

The youths were detained by the Greek Navy in December 2017, after the cargo ship they were travelling in was seized.

The Husp Post: Families of five Punjabi youths, who are languishing in different Greek jails, have sought the intervention of External Affairs Ministry in securing their safe return. The youths were detained by the Greek Coast Guard in December 2017, after the cargo ship they were travelling in was seized on the charges of violating maritime safety laws. Two of the arrested Punjabi youth- Jaideep Thakur and Bhupinder Singh- hail from Kahnuwan village in Gurdaspur while the addresses and details of the other three are not known.

According to Jaideep’s father, Balwan Singh and Bhupinder’s father, Balkar Chand, they had paid Rupees one lakh for Jaideep and Rupees six lakh for Bhupinder to an agent in Goa, Sandeep Patil, in lieu of getting them a job on a cargo ship. The two were placed aboard Andromeda, a Tanzania-flagged cargo ship. While Jaideep was hired as a chief engineer, Bhupinder was appointed a deck cadet.

In December 2017, when their cargo ship, bound for Libya, set sail from Turkey and was intercepted by the Hellenic Coast Guard officials near Greek offshores. The navy had recovered 29 crates full of explosives, weighing 410 tons, from the ship. All the 8 crew members, including one Albanian and two Ukrainian nationals were subsequently arrested and lodged in different jails across Greece.

The European Union has issued a directive that bans the sale or transportation of weapons and explosives to Libya. Authorities also identified 102 safety concerns relating to the ship’s seaworthiness.

Balwan Singh and Balkar Chand said that they met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and MoS for External Affairs VK Singh last week and urged them to secure the release of their wards. However, they allege that no action has been taken since.

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