My Story: I Lost My Brother On A Merchant Navy Ship Last Year Under Mysterious Circumstances

Image Credit: Aanchal Malik

My Story:' I Lost My Brother On A Merchant Navy Ship Last Year Under Mysterious Circumstances'

Aanchal Malik lost her only brother Shivam Malik onboard a Merchant Navy ship. While the ship authorities called his death a suicide, medical reports revealed that he was strangulated.

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My brother was the most loved member of the family. Everyone who knew him knew how kind-hearted and jolly Shivam was. Born on an Airforce campus, my parents have always taught three qualities to their children: honesty, kindness and integrity. In 2014, Shivam joined the merchant navy via Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Company. He had been working for six years with this company.

My Brother Had Taken Some Cash For Shopping

He boarded his Ship Shandong Zihe on 29th August 2021. He was in constant touch with the family through calls and messages. During a WhatsApp call last year with my father, Shivam had mentioned that he had overheard some ship officials discussing the smuggling of drugs and weapons' consignment and they had confronted him when they saw him around. On 30th September, he texted my father that he would call him when he reached Gibraltar port. He had even taken some cash to do shopping at Gibraltar port. But that never happened.

Shivam Malik was declared dead on 1st October 2021, but we were informed on 2nd October after 14 hours approximately. On 2nd October, we got a call around 3 PM LT that he was found hanging in the bow thruster room. As per the timeline of the incident, which the company shares, he was declared dead at 8 PM, and they kept him in the fish freezer at 11 PM; then, what they were doing with his body for two hours? The temperature of the fish room can go up to -10 degrees, then why was he kept at 4 degrees?

The company was already aware of the protocols, and they knew that the ship would take 2-3 days to reach the shore; why the local authorities and agents were not informed in advance? This wasted two days in the repatriation process.

Experienced Continuous Delays In Receiving His Body

In the entire UK or London, there was no other doctor available for postmortem other than Mr Brett Lockyer? Why did the company not request another doctor? This wasted five days in the repatriation process.

We asked for proof that Shivam was found hanging, which they didn't send us for six days. On 6th October, an official came to our house with four pictures in a pen drive. Out of these four pictures, in 2 images, the face of Shivam was not visible, and the other two looked like a demo session of CPR.

The company took no efforts to contact the Ministry of External Affairs to expedite the process, and we used our contacts to get in touch with MEA and request the same. MEA opened its office on closed holidays to complete the documentation process quickly. The entire documentation process was conducted on 15th October; still, the flight was booked for 21st October late at night, which wasted six days in the repatriation process. In total, 13 days were wasted in the entire process.

We were repeatedly getting threats that the process would get more delayed if we kept asking for updates from the agents. We specifically requested Videography and Photography of post mortem that happened in Gibraltar, UK. We asked for his last wearing clothes, and the company said they had destroyed the clothes he last wore, and there was no videography or photography at the post mortem. As per WHO's guidelines, last wearing clothes can not be destroyed by any police or doctor in any case.

On 23rd October, when Shivam's mortal remains arrived in India, they lost Shivam's passport and original documents. We have not received his phones (iPhone 12 pro and Samsung), laptop, personal diary, and documents file. In his luggage also clothes are missing, they have kept an empty notebook instead of his diary.

The postmortem in India on October 23 revealed that the cause of death in Shivam's case is Asphyxia and Ante mortem strangulation and injuries on his nose and face.

I have started a petition with Change.org which has been signed by over 33,000 citizens, many of whom are families of seafarers. Together we are asking for an online complaint portal and SOPs for captains to enforce when a seafarer goes missing or dies. Things are slowly beginning to move forward. I have met the DG Shipping and soon hope to meet the Shipping Minister. If we can save even one life with these systemic changes, that will be the best way to honour my brother's memory.

If you, too, have an inspiring story to tell the world, send us your story at mystory@thelogicalindian.com

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Editor : Ankita Singh
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Creatives : Ratika Rana