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Seafarers and Dockers Union of India Demands Justice Amidst Blind Seafarer’s Plight and Alleged Negligence

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Mumbai : In a resolute stand for seafarer rights, the Seafarers and Dockers Union of India is demanding justice in the face of a heart-wrenching incident. Amardeep Singh Dhillon, a 3rd Engineer aboard the MT Global Falcon (IMO 9399167), has tragically lost his eyesight due to alleged negligence, denial of essential medical assistance and forcing to consume wrong medicine by the ship’s authorities. This tragic episode unfolded while the vessel was docked in the UAE port on August 29, 2023, and has revealed a grave violation of seafarers’ rights. What is equally concerning is the apparent indifference of the Director General of Shipping towards the pleas of seafarers, further exacerbating the plight of individuals like Amardeep Singh Dhillon, who is now in ICU.

A Disturbing Sequence of Events:

Amardeep Singh Dhillon’s vision began deteriorating on August 29, prompting him to seek assistance from Chief Engineer Gurpreet Singh and Master Burinder Franklin on the ship. Shockingly, his pleas for medical help were allegedly ignored, and he was coerced to continue working despite his deteriorating condition. Although he reported his worsening health to the RPSL company, KSM Navigation Private Limited, it appears that the seafarer’s cries for aid were disregarded.

Moreover without any proper medical practitioner guidance, Dhillon was forced to consume wrong medicine. That led bleeding from his nose.

Tragically, due to the absence of immediate medical intervention, Amardeep Singh Dhillon lost his second eye during the voyage from the UAE to Colombo on September 3, 2023. The ship’s authorities seemingly only recognized the gravity of the situation after this irreversible harm had been done.

A Son’s Anguish and Battle for Assistance:

Tarun Amardeep Singh Dhillon, the seafarer’s son, received distressing calls from his father, who described his deteriorating condition. However, the ship’s Master and Chief Engineer allegedly offered false reassurances, insisting that the seafarer was faking his condition. This misinformation continued until it was too late.

In the face of this desperate situation, Tarun reached out to several maritime organizations, including ITF, ISWAN, and DGS, seeking help for his father. However, his pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Global Maritime Assistance:

Despite the apparent apathy of ITF and ISWAN responded to Tarun’s pleas and urged the ship owners to divert the vessel to India’s New Mangalore Port, Karnataka to rescue the seafarer. In an act of desperation, Tarun personally traveled to New Mangalore Port from Nashik, Maharashtra on September 10, 2023, to receive his father and provide medical care at his own expense.

Tarun expressed, “The act of leaving my father under abandon state, was like, throwing away garbage from a vessel in a blue ocean where no one will know, what really happened. My fight is against the Chief Engineer, Master, Vessel Owner, and Agent Company. Its such an unfortunate fact that even as a human being they didn’t tried to know the condition of my father. I demand support to fight against such cruelty. That has put my father in ICU.”

Union Leader Steps In:

In the quest for justice and accountability, Tarun Amardeep Singh Dhillon has now sought the support of Sunil Gadekar, General Secretary of the Seafarers & Dockers Union of India. Gadekar, expressing solidarity with the victim, has pledged to stand by Tarun’s side in his pursuit of justice and compensation for his father. This intervention signifies a crucial step in highlighting the alleged negligence and holding the responsible parties accountable.

A Critical Health Update:

Victim Amardeep Singh Dhillon in ICU, Vijan Hospital, Nashik

Since his rescue by his son, Amardeep Singh Dhillon has been admitted to the ICU of Vijan Hospital, Nashik, Maharashtra. He is in a very critical condition, underscoring the urgency of investigating this tragic incident and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.

Laws Breached and Seeking Justice:

The tragic case of Amardeep Singh Dhillon involves severe breaches of several key maritime regulations and human rights principles, including:

1. International Maritime Conventions: Violations of international maritime laws that require immediate medical attention and humane treatment for seafarers.

2. Human Rights Laws: Denial of essential medical care can be interpreted as a breach of human rights laws, including the right to health and dignity.

3. Employment and Labor Laws: Neglect of a seafarer’s safety and health is a clear violation of employment and labor laws that safeguard workers’ rights.

4. Maritime Safety Regulations: Failing to provide prompt medical assistance to a seafarer, especially in case of medical emergencies, contravenes established maritime safety regulations.

5. Criminal Negligence: Allegations of negligence leading to a grave injury may constitute criminal negligence under the law.

6. Right to Communications for Seafarers: Denial of providing facility to communicate with family is a breach of Seafarers’ Bill of Rights under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC)

Gadekar informed, “Amardeep Singh Dhillon’s pursuit of justice and compensation can be sought under many legal avenues:

1. International Conventions: The family can seek remedies through international maritime conventions that address the rights of seafarers and their access to medical care, including MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships).

2. Civil Lawsuits: Legal action can be taken against the responsible parties under civil laws, seeking compensation for the harm caused.

3. Labor and Employment Laws: Claims can be made under labor and employment laws for the negligence and breach of employment contracts.

4.Criminal Prosecution: If gross negligence and misconduct are proven, criminal charges may be filed against the parties responsible.

As a representative of Seafarers and Dockers Union of India I strongly demands justice and accountability for Amardeep Singh Dhillon and calls for a thorough investigation to shed light on the alleged negligence that has left a seasoned seafarer in complete darkness.”

One of the retired veteran officer on an anonymity expressed, “Yes, legal actions can be taken up against the Chief Engineer, Master, Vessel Owner, and Agent Company if an onboard seafarer whose health starts deteriorating and is not allowed to go offboard for treatment, and instead is forced to consume wrong medicine which leads to the critical health condition of the seafarer.

The following legal actions can be taken:

A complaint can be filed with the Maritime Administration: The seafarer, their family members or any Seafarer Rights organization can file a complaint with the Maritime Administration of the country where the vessel is registered, like in India, it’s Director General of Shipping. The Maritime Administration will investigate the complaint and take appropriate action against the responsible parties.

A lawsuit can also filed in court: The seafarer or their family members or any Seafarer Rights organization can file a lawsuit in court against the Chief Engineer, Master, Vessel Owner, and Agent Company for negligence, medical malpractice, and other claims.

A complaint can also be filed with the International Labour Organization (ILO): The seafarer or their family members or any Seafarer Rights organization can file a complaint with the ILO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations that sets international labor standards. The ILO will investigate the complaint and try to resolve the matter through mediation or arbitration.

In addition to the above legal actions, the seafarer or their family members may also be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Explaining more  regarding the duties and authority of the Director General of Shipping (DGS) in India he informed, “The Director General of Shipping (DGS) is the apex regulatory authority for the Indian maritime industry. This governmental agency holds a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and security of Indian vessels, protecting the marine environment, and fostering the growth of the Indian maritime sector.

In situations where the health of an Indian seafarer deteriorates, and they face obstacles in disembarking for necessary medical treatment or are subjected to incorrect medical interventions resulting in critical health conditions, the DGS possesses comprehensive authority to take the following decisive actions:

– Revoke the documents and licenses of the Master and Chief Engineer currently serving on board.

– Immediately suspend the license of the Recruitment and Placement Service License (RPSL) company responsible until the matter is fully resolved.

Furthermore, the DGS also have the right to institute additional measures, including instigating a thorough investigation into the incident or pursuing legal action against individuals or entities found responsible.

Vijan Hospital, Nashik where Amardeep Singh Dhillon is struggling for his Life

4 thoughts on “Seafarers and Dockers Union of India Demands Justice Amidst Blind Seafarer’s Plight and Alleged Negligence

  1. Exemplary punishment must be given to EVERY person, company and organisation responsible for this tragic event. This incident came into public domain only due to rigorous effort of family, otherwise such type of events are generally forced not to come in public domain by higher officials of ship crew, vessel owners, Recruitment and Placement Service company.

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