Relatives lobbied MPs in the UK Parliament over ex-soldiers in Indian jail

Vastavam web: The friends and relatives of six former British soldiers lodged in a Tamil Nadu jail today lobbied MPs in the UK Parliament before handing over a 405,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street to help secure their release.The ex-soldiers were arrested on October 2013 and sentenced for carrying arms on a commercial ship.”It’s now four years since our loved ones were wrongly incarcerated in India. These last four years have been sheer hell for everyone concerned, particularly for the men who were imprisoned while carrying out a vital, legitimate job in anti-piracy,” said Joanne Thomlinson, whose brother John Armstrong is among the six former soldiers.
Indian coastguards boarded their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, and arrested them along with 29 other crew members for taking weapons into India’s territorial waters.The charges were initially quashed when the men argued the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes and their paperwork, issued by the UK government, was in order.Since then there have been a series of appeals, including British Prime Minister Theresa May raising the matter with Narendra Modi during her visit to India in November 2016 as well as Britain’s High Commissioner in India, Dominic Asquith, visiting the men in jail in Chennai.
The sailors were aboard the American-owned Seaman Guard Ohio, which reportedly offered armed protection to vessels sailing through an area known as “pirates’ alley” between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.