Family of Indian Sailor Jailed in Togo Meets PM Manmohan Singh; Captain’s Release Still Uncertain

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | December 10, 2013 10:26 PM EST

The family members of Captain Sunil James, the Indian sailor jailed in Togo, met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, the official twitter handle of the PM said.

The family is seeking the release of the Indian merchant navy captain, who has been jailed in Togo since July. They want Captain James back home to conduct the last rites of his 11-month-old son who died last week.

The Prime Minister gave audience to Captain James' wife Aditi and her sister Anvi, who were accompanied by Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam in PM's Parliament House office.

After the meeting, Anvi's husband Rakesh Mahadappa said that the Prime Minister was doing "everything possible to secure either a full and final release of Sunil or, on humanitarian grounds at least, a pardon or relief for a few weeks so that he could come back to India to perform his duties as a father to bury his son."

"The PM gave us a patient hearing... since we do have an embassy or High Commission in Togo, our High Commissioner to Ghana is making diplomatic efforts to secure his release," Nirupam, MP from Mumbai (North) told India Today.

Captain James' ship MT Ocean Centurion was attacked near Togo on 16 July. Few days later, he was detained and arrested in Togo on charges of aiding the pirates.

The 36-year-old's toddler son Vivaan died on 2 December of septicemia, and the incident that seemed to have suddenly jolted the Indian government into action.

The meeting comes just days after the Ministry of External Affairs assured that an official from the Indian Mission in Accra is being sent to Lome, Togo's capital, for negotiating the Captain's release. A letter from India's Ghana mission also assured the family earlier in December that every action possible will be taken to ensure his release. Despite reassurance from the government, there is no apparent sign from the Togo government that they would release Captain James any time soon.

The body of little Vivaan, who could not survive an operation for his intestinal gangrene, is kept at a morgue while the family members wait for Captain James to return home for the funeral.

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