Ship that hid four Indians sans papers held at Chennai port

Ship that hid four Indians sans papers held at Chennai port

CHENNAI: Four Indians, whose names were not included on the crew list and who were made to hide in the engine room of a Panama-registered oil tanker, were rescued at Chennai port on Saturday after one of the four men called a relative. The men included a Tamil Nadu resident.
Rise Dignity, operated by a Hong Kong-based company, docked at the city port around 10.30am. It was carrying crude oil and had arrived from the Iranian port of Khark after beginning the voyage from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. A team of immigration officials boarded the ship and began combing the entire ship the size of a 10-storey building. The vessel’s manifest, the official document listing the cargo, passengers and crew on board, had 36 crew members including two people from Pakistan.
Throughout the search, deck cadets and a trainee fitter kept moving the Indians from one location to another to prevent detection. Finally, after the officials confronted him with specific information, the ship’s master presented Thejus P from Kerala, Prakash from Tamil Nadu, Suresh from Andhra Pradesh and Punit from Uttar Pradesh.
The port authorities had stopped unloading of oil briefly and the immigration authorities detained the master, while the rescued sailors are expected to be handed over to the city police for release after their statements are recorded. Chief immigration officer Xavier Dhanraj said, “The ship declared 36 crew members but we found four more. The Indians have their passports and they said they did not know that they were not included in the crew list.” Mails sent to Atlantic Shipping Pvt Ltd, the agent concerned, and Hong Kong-based Far East Ship Managment, which operates the vessel, did not elicit a response till the time of going to print.
Sailors did not know names were not on listThe Indians, who were among the lowest in the ranks, had been taken on board the ship on June 1 when it docked in Dubai for cleaning the tank, unaware that their names were not included in the manifest. Since then, they were not paid any wages but provided food and accommodation. They realised they were on an illegal voyage only when the master and officials told them they would have to hide in the engine room for a short while when the ship docked at Chennai port. Thejus said, “This raised a suspicion that our names are not in the list and I called my relative. We were worried for our safety.”