Indian sailor James home for son's last rites

Mumbai, Dec 20 : Indian sailor Capt. Sunil James, released Thursday, arrived here Friday evening to a tearful reunion with his family nearly five months after his incarceration in a Togo jail.

Police had a tough time in escorting the couple to a waiting vehicle from where he was scheduled to go to a south Mumbai morgue and see the body of his only child, 11-month old Vivaan, who expired Dec 2.

He was accompanied by his wife Aditi after a flight brought him from West Africa to New Delhi this (Friday) morning.

A huge crowd of well-wishers and mediapersons virtually mobbed him outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here as he stepped out.

"I am aware my family and others were fighting for me and other crew members to secure our release. Their support made us feel we were not alone," James said.

James was nabbed July 31 along with at least two other Indian sailors of "MT Ocean Centurion" near the west coast of Africa.

After sustained efforts by the Indian government, family members and the media, James and another sailor, V. Vijayan, were released Thursday.

The release of James was fast-tracked after Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam from Mumbai North took Aditi, her sister Avni and brother-in-law Rakesh Madappa to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi seeking India's intervention in the matter.

He reiterated his thanks and gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Indian High Commission officials in Togo and the Indian community settled in that West African nation.

Aditi's joy at seeing James was subdued following the recent loss of her child.

"Its a very big relief though we feel it could have come earlier. We got results a fortnight after meeting Prime Minister ... We are happy as till this (Friday) morning we were not aware whether he would be released," she said.

Aditi said she promised their son he would meet his father and that has been fulfilled, referring to the family's decision not to perform Vivaan's last rites till James returned.

"We have not yet decided on the funeral though tentatively we have fixed it for Saturday in Malad. But, the final decision will be taken by Vivaan's father only," Rakesh told IANS earlier Friday.

The end of the ordeal signalled subdued joy among the family members that also comprises James' aged mother.

"We were confident justice will be delivered. Whatever has happened is now the past ... We shall look at the future now," James said.

The family hopes the coming Christmas and the New Year would help heal the wounds and everything would turn out for the better in 2014.

--IANS (Posted on 20-12-2013)

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