An ex-soldier from Chester is among the crew of an anti-pirate vessel imprisoned in India three months ago.
Former Army sniper Ray Tindall, 38, from The Crescent, Newton, was one of six British ex-soldiers on board the US-owned ship which was impounded on October 12 after straying into Indian waters.
The patrol vessel protects freight ships from pirate attacks but the 25 security guards and 10 crew were arrested for allegedly carrying weapons arms and ammunition without disclosing them to the local authorities.
The Coast Guard reportedly seized 31 assault rifles and about 5,000 rounds of ammunition from the ship.
Ray, a former sergeant with the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh and The 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, has been held in the city of Chennai's Puzhal jail ever since.
Ray, who lives with his wife Faith and four-year-old daughter Lyra, left the Army last April after 17 years’ service. His wife has not commented but Ray’s mum and step-dad, Carole and David Edmonds, from Hull, have raised concerns about whether the British Government is doing enough to secure the release of their son and the other UK nationals.
And almost 90,000 people have signed a petition, started by Yvonne Machugh, a partner of one of the men, calling on Foreign Secretary William Hague to help free the six British ex-soldiers.
She wrote: “Their work affects everyone in the UK as the ships the lads are protecting bring fuel to the UK for your car, the clothes on your back and even the TV you watch, or the mobile phone you're using to read this. They're helping protect the goods we take for granted everyday.
“They have had their freedom and human rights taken away from them. This is an injustice and the British Government must step in to have the men released.”
Ray, who describes himself on Twitter as ‘security consultant, ultra runner, fishing and rugby league nut’, set up a farmers market in Hoole last year, trading under the name of Faraly’s Fine Produce, having previously worked as a butcher for Swan’s Farm Shop in Treuddyn, North Wales.
He told The Chronicle last May: “I started making sausages while in the Army, where I was a sniper. Unfortunately, after 17 years there I developed hearing loss and I was conditionally discharged.”
Chester MP Stephen Mosley, who is in regular contact with Ray’s family, said: “In October Ray Tindall of Chester was detained by the Indian authorities while working on a maritime security operation in the Indian Ocean. Everyone will appreciate that this has been an extremely distressing time for Ray’s family and our thoughts and best wishes should be with them throughout this challenging time.
“I have met with Ray’s family and raised Ray’s detention with ministers and the Foreign Office. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have raised this case with their Indian counterparts and I will soon be meeting the Indian High Commissioner to raise this issue directly.
“The British Consul is regularly meeting Ray and his colleagues and is doing all it can to look after their best interests. I will continue to monitor this case closely and hope for Ray’s safe return home soon.”
A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed Ray Tindall is among six British nationals from the MV Seaman Guard Ohio imprisoned in India.
He said: “We are providing consular assistance and are in touch with the local authorities.”