In glad tidings, 23 Indian crew members aboard the ship 'MV Jag Anand' stuck off China for over six months, were allowed to set sail for a port in Japan on Saturday evening, the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) said here.
NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Y. Serang said that these crew members, along with their counterparts on another ship, 'MV Anastasia', were stranded off the China anchorage since six months.
"The 23 crew of the ship MV Jag Anand have lifted anchor, and cleared to sail and reach Chiba port, Japan by January 14. The crew change will take place there and after completing the Covid-19 formalities, they will start on their return journey to India," Serang said.
The NUSI is hopeful that the crew of 'MV Anastasia' also shall be accorded similar clearances soon as their anxious families in India await their return.
After having been at sea for more than 18 months, and in the clutches of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the seafarers on both ships literally found themselves on a 'floating prison' as they were unwittingly caught in a political tussle between China and Australia even though many were ill and needed urgent medical attention.
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had strongly taken up their cause with the Centre after which the Indian government followed up the issue at the diplomatic levels, culminating in the latest development and their return to the country soon.
Several of the crew members are from Mumbai, Thane and Palghar regions of Maharashtra and their families and other seafarers made a series of appeals to the Centre right up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding his intervention to secure their safe passage home.