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Five Indian seafarers, who have been stranded in Iran’s Chabahar port for two years now, are seeking help of the Indian government to return home.

The sailors were arrested in connection with a drugs case, but were released after a court in Chabahar found them innocent, according to local media. Latest available information says the five-crew spent over 400 days in Chabahar Central Jail before being released on 9 March, but have yet to receive back their passports in order to repatriate.

As such, Indian world forum President Puneet Singh has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on their behalf seeking help and informing that the sailors were fooled as they were promised employment with shipping companies in UAE but instead were diverted midway to Iran “to join an Iranian employer who has not even paid a single remuneration to them till date,” the letter reads.

The news coincides with the launch by the Maritime Union of India (MUI) of the ‘Service to Stranded Seafarers’ project, in order to create a database of the Indian seafarers who are currently languishing in jails abroad. MUI General Secretary Amar Singh Thakur estimates that about 500 Indian seafarers are in foreign jails due to criminal charges, lack of proper documentation, detention of vessels, and abandonment of ships. However, only those who are able to contact their relatives in India, are able to get legal support and assistance.