How Strength Of Unity Miraculously Saved Indian Sailor Jailed In Iran

Every now and then, we come across stories when the proverb - “A friend in need is a friend indeed” – comes true. But what about helping someone whom we do not even know or who is not even well renowned. This is exactly what has happened while rescuing 47-year-old sailor Umar Saleh Mohammad Thaim.

Arrested Abroad

Umar, a resident of Mandvi in Kutch district of Gujarat, and his two associates Ibrahim Razak Sap and Sajid Umar Sumra were on their way returning from Dubai to Eden, in Yemen, in their cargo ship on August 4, 2014. Suddenly, a bad weather made it difficult for them to navigate through the rough sea and they sought shelter in an Iranian coast.

But instead of resuming his journey after the unfavourable weather subsided, they were detained by the Iranian Navy. They were accused of smuggling diesel and illegal intrusion.

After almost four long years, Umar’s associates Razak and Sajid were released in February this year along with several prisoners on grounds of mercy. Unfortunately, Umar was held back due to discrepancy in paperwork. 

For his release, a fine of Rs 58 lakh was imposed which was reduced to Rs 46.5 lakh. But even with the reduction in amount, the fine was too much for even a common man to shell out, let alone a sailor.

Coming Together For A Fortune

Umar’s family knocked on the doors of all concerned ministries in the state and country to secure his release but to no avail. It was then that they turned to Kasam Jafrabadi, former president of Kutch Vahanvata Association, and confided in him their dilemma of falling short of funds critical to his release.

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Kasam shared the information with an influential sailor in Mandvi who goes by the name Abu Bakr Pathan. Abu wasted no time and formed a WhatsApp group to send an SOS message to all sailors. Within just five hours, Rs 11.50 lakh was raised by around 250 sailors, many of whom had never heard of Umar before.

The sailors, both rich and poor, pledged anywhere from Rs 500 to Rs 20,000, that ultimately added up to Rs 11.50 lakh, a sum which formed a major component of the Rs 46.50 lakh fine imposed on Umar. Additionally, his family of five brothers pooled in Rs 15 lakh while his employer donated Rs 20 lakh to the noble cause.

Finally, on September 24, 2018, Umar was released from Minab jail in Iran upon payment of his humungous fine.  One of his younger brothers Ibrahim secured his release.

"Our brother is coming home, finally. It is thanks to Allah and generosity of fellow brethren that Umar will unite with his wife and four children soon," said Umar's elder brother Noor Mohammad.

This impromptu act of generosity by the sailors, most of whom are absolute strangers to Umar, to free him from incarceration in a foreign land is indeed inspiring. These individuals with their selfless acts have indeed shown what humanity is all about in today’s immoral times.

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