The government on Thursday said it was making all possible effort to seek the early release of 64 Indians held hostage by Somali pirates, including six on board an Egyptian cargo ship hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, in August last year.
"I share the anxiety and concerns of the family members and we are making all efforts to ensure the safety of Indians and also to expedite their release," Shipping Minister G K Vasan told reporters in New Delhi after meeting the families of the Indian sailors taken hostage.
Talking about the six hostages on board the cargo ship M V Suez, he said the captured ship belongs to an Egyptian company and India would use diplomatic channels for their release and safety.
Vasan said his ministry officials are in touch with their counterparts in the ministry of external affairs. He refused to elaborate on the steps taken by the government.
"I would like to emphasise that any step taken by the government has to be discreet and cannot be discussed in the public domain while the process is on," Vasan said, adding he reviewed the steps taken in an internal meeting of his ministry earlier in the day.
According to the shipping ministry's data, of the 214 Indians held hostage by Somali pirates between 2007 and 2011, 150 sailors have been released so far.
"This shows that the efforts taken to release the hostages have borne fruit," Vasan said.
However, family members of the Indian sailors, who met the shipping minister on Thursday, were unhappy with the government's efforts and said they are getting assurances only but no positive results.