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Sailor reunites with family after three years

By Arindam Gupta

SILCHAR, July 5 - It was an emotional homecoming for Indian sailor Joyful Rongmei as he returned to his in-laws house in Naga village near Fatak Bazar in Silchar on Tuesday after three years in a jail in Nigeria.

�I am relieved. I hoped to return home since I was not guilty,� an emotionally overwhelmed Joyful told this correspondent. His wife, Gaisinghmei Rongmei with their six-year-old son Timon broke down several times while sharing her feelings of joy. �My payers have responded. God has brought my husband back home safe,� she said. It may be mentioned that Joyful�s mother Gaisinglou Kabui had warned the Centre earlier this year of committing suicide if the government fails to bring her son back to India. Joyful had reached India on July 3.

Talking to this correspondent, Joyful, a resident of Lalpani in Jiribam and merchant navy personnel narrated his days of agony in the jail. �Along with ten others, I joined as an employee in the ship Mt Maroon in December 2013 and we were sailing to Cameroon to scrap the ship for which we had orders. It was a 30-year-old ship made in Russia and was basically an oil tanker. On our way, we had to anchor the ship near the Nigerian sea border as the ship experienced some technical difficulties. The Nigerian Navy officials cordoned us and charged high amount failing which we were detained on charges of illegal oil bunkering,� Joyful said. He was quick to add that all the detainees including 11 Indians, two Nigerians and three from Ghana were taken to Yenagoa Federal Prison in Bayelsa state of Nigeria where they had to face a lot of hardships.

Asked about whether he has plans of resuming his service, Joyful said that he wants to spend some time with his family battling with acute financial crisis.

Expressing anguish over the harassment meted out to him, Joyful said that Nigeria is a country brimming with corruption. The jail-inmates have charges of theft, murder and extortion rampant in the country, he added. He, however, thanked the Indian Government, particularly External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Silchar MLA Dilip Kumar Paul and Nitin Sandesara, a Gujarat based businessman who has trade links in Nigeria for expediting the procedure of the release of the 11 Indian nationals.

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