As many as 16 Indian sailors, who are part of a 26-member crew of oil vessel MT Heroic Idun,  have been detained by Equatorial Guinea since August 14. The crew has stated that their vessel was detained on the basis of a request made by Nigeria.

In view of this, Rajya Sabha MP AA Rahim recently sent a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, requesting to "urgently intervene" in the matter of "illegal detention". Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention to help in the release of the sailors.

The Indian embassy in Guinea recently took to Twitter to say that it has been in regular contact with the crew members over the phone.

Indian sailors in Guinea
Indian sailors detained by Equatorial GuineaTwitter

"This Embassy and our High Commission in Abuja are closely working with authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria for the early release of crew members of MV Heroic Idun. All crew members are safe and those in the Detention Centre have been shifted to the ship," tweeted the Indian embassy in Equatorial Guinea.

"Since their detention in mid-August, this Mission has been in regular contact with the crew members over phone. We have also had several consular access/ visits to them. We are closely monitoring developments and are actively engaged for an early resolution of the issue," it added.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan told media persons in Thiruvananthapuram that the Indian government would bring the Indian sailors detained in Guinea back to India. He also said that ministry officials have contacted the government officials there to prevent the handing over of the sailors to the Nigerian Navy.

Here's all we know about it so far:

The Norwegian ship 'Heroic Idun', which had reached the AKPO Terminal in Nigeria on August 8 to fill crude oil, was intercepted and detained by a Guinea naval ship. As the crew was waiting for their turn, they were detained on suspicion that they had come to steal oil.

Indian sailors stranded in Equatorial Guinea
Indian sailors stranded in Equatorial GuineaVideo screengrab

According to reports, 15 of the detainees were taken ashore and have been held in detention at Malabo.

In a video released, the crew member said that they have fully cooperated with all the investigations carried out by the Equatorial Guinean authorities. Those sailors who are ashore have so far been interrogated by Nigerian officials thrice. They have also visited the ship at Luba to investigate. 

The crew has reportedly been presented with a resolution stating the offences committed and the fine to be paid for the same. Reports have also suggested that the Norwegian ship owners had even offered $2,00,000 as ransom money but the Guinea Navy didn't agree.