A marine engineer, who was abducted by pirates near Nigeria earlier in March, reached Varanasi late on May 11 night.
Bhardwaj thanked Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for helping his family secure his release. His wife, Kanchan, had written to the PM with an appeal to accelerate efforts to rescue him.
“I am quite thankful to Sushma Ji because she made serious efforts to get me released and also consoled my family members. Certainly, the government acted promptly in this case because I belong to the PM’s constituency,” he said.
According to Santosh Kumar Bhardwaj, an engineer with Singapore-based shipping company Transocean Limited, the pirates abducted him along with few others during wee hours on March 26, when their ship was at sea.
“The pirates jumped on the ship… They directed us to put on life jackets and asked us to climb on a boat. Then they drove the boat to a village on an island surrounded by dense forests,” he said.
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The pirates, who were equipped with satellite phones, allowed them to interact with each other during the 45 days they were held.
He said the pirates offered them meat of dogs and monkeys and when resisted they offered them noodles. “Before giving us food they used to do some holy rituals and used to kill animals in front of them,” he said.
Bhardwaj also said that two pirates with AK-47 were always on guard to stop them from running away. They used to change their location in every five days, he added.
Santosh Kumar Bhardwaj dainikbhaskar
“They didn’t harm us and assured that they wanted money and would free us soon after they get it,” Bhardwaj said.
He said the pirates have demanded millions of dollars in lieu of their return.
The pirates contacted his employers to put forth their demand and after several rounds of dialogue, they released Bhardwaj and his colleagues near Port Harcourt in Nigeria when their demand was fulfilled.
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