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Indian Sailors Stuck In China For 7 Months Catch Owaisi's Eye; Govt Assures 'return Soon'

The Indian government on Wednesday said 39 Indian sailors stuck in China will be brought back soon as diplomatic talks are on with the neighbouring country.

Indian sailors

The Indian government on Wednesday said 39 Indian sailors stuck in China will be brought back soon as diplomatic talks are on with the neighbouring country. Two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so. The matter was purported to also have a connection to the souring of Australia-China ties in recent months, though Beijing has disputed this.

'Our seafarers will come to India soon'

"Diplomatic talks are going on for this successfully. Our seafarers will come to India soon," Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in reply to a query about sailors being stuck in China for the last seven months during Cabinet briefing.

Meanwhile, China has said that the "real" reason for the Indian sailors stuck in China is that the "freight forwarder doesn't want to adjust plans due to commercial interests". The spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India Counselor Ji Rong also said that the Chinese authorities have "never denied any vessel departure".

'China has never denied any vessel departure': Ji Rong

Taking to Twitter, the spokesperson said, "Chinese authorities have been in close communication with the Indian side and provided timely assistance and necessary supplies to Indian sailors. China has never denied any vessel departure. The real cause of the situation is freight forwarder doesn't want to adjust plans due to commercial interests."

Meanwhile, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday reacting to the development said that the Centre should take steps to bring the sailors back. "It is high time that the government reacts to it. I want the Prime Minister to at least please tweet on it. Let the Prime Minister react and get them back," Owaisi said.

China on December 25 had said that there is no 'link' between stranded Indian ship crew on its Chinese ports and its strained relations with India and Australia. The statement had come a day after the External Affairs Ministry had said that two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo.

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"There is a considerable amount of stress on the crew members on account of this unprecedented situation," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said.

Srivastava said bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 and it has 23 Indian sailors. Another vessel, MV Anastasia with 16 Indian nationals as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, waiting for discharge of its cargo, he had said at a media briefing.

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"Our Embassy in Beijing has been in constant touch with provincial and central government authorities in China, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed," he had said.

Asked about India's concern relating to the Indian crew members of the ships and whether China's decision on this issue has related to the current situation between India, China and Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin last week had told a media briefing that "we stated repeatedly that China has clear stipulations on quarantine measures".

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(With agency inputs)

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