|Sunil James’s wife and mother in Mumbai on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Dec. 19 (PTI): Indian sailor Sunil James, who had been jailed in Togo in July, has been released and is expected to reach India tomorrow, external affairs ministry sources said today.
India was in touch with the authorities in Togo to secure on compassionate ground the release of the sailor whose family wanted him to conduct the last rites of his 11-month-old son.
Indian officials from Accra had met the sailor recently and had been pursuing the case of his release with the authorities there.
James has been released, the sources said, adding he is expected to return home by tomorrow. He was under arrest in the west African country since July on the charge of aiding pirates who had attacked and looted his Marshall Islands-flagged MT Ocean Centurion on July 16.
The sailor’s 31-year-old wife Aditi and others in the family wanted James to conduct the last rites of his son whose body is lying in a hospital morgue since the toddler’s death from septicaemia on December 2.
It was reported that the infant, Vivaan, underwent an operation for intestinal gangrene but doctors could not save him as the infection had spread to his bloodstream.
Voicing satisfaction over the release of James, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said the charges that he had been accused of cannot be proved.
“We were not satisfied that these charges could be proved or any investigation needed to be conducted,” he said.
“I am satisfied now that he is being released. I admit that this is the result of diplomatic relationship between India and Togo,” Khurshid said.
Expressing satisfaction over James’s release, his wife Aditi recalled the trauma the family went through since her husband’s incarceration in July.
“I had to be strong for I had to fight a lot of people. For initial 4-5 days I was not able to come out of the shock but then I realised I have already lost my son and I don’t want to lose my husband. I was worried for his condition and state of mind, then the whole family decided we will fight for him so that he returns and sees Vivaan for one last time,” she said in Mumbai.
Aditi said James was likely to reach home by tomorrow.
She said she did not know how her husband would take the loss of their son.
“I don’t know how much time it will take him to accept or absorb this thing (the child’s death). I don’t know what his mental state would be right now when he actually comes and realises what exactly has happened,” she said.
Rakesh Madappa, brother-in-law of James, said the release could have happened much earlier.
“I don’t see any reason why it could not have been done much earlier, a lot, lot sooner. We had been fighting this battle since mid-July…” he said.