Fishermen did not venture out to sea as a mark of mourning

They came in droves from villages that dot the coastline of Ramanathapuram to Thoppuvalasai near Tiruppullani since evening. They sat on the sand, men to the right and women to the left of the house that has been expecting the body of its only son.

As the ambulance carrying the body of 25-year-old A. Sekar, who was gunned down by the U.S. Navy while fishing off Dubai on July 17, entered the village at 9.20 p.m. on Wednesday, a pall of gloom engulfed Thoppuvalasai. In moments, their restrained silence made way for wailing. As the coffin was placed on a bench in front of the house, women came in groups to pay homage.

The mother, A. Nagavalli, swooned on seeing her son’s body. She had refused to eat ever since news of the shooting had reached the village. Twenty minutes later, the body was taken for burial. Residents of Thoppuvalasai did not venture out to sea as a mark of respect to Sekar.

M. Arumugam, father of the deceased, said that close to 35 to 40 persons from Thoppuvalasai were working on fishing contract in the United Arab Emirates, Brunei and Muscat.

Their main source of livelihood was fishing., . They worked for a maximum of 10 to 15 days in a month. Most of them, especially youth, migrated to the Middle East. They had borrowed money from local money lenders at exorbitant interest rates. Mr. Arumugam had borrowed Rs one lakh and it had been only 10 months since his son had gone for work.

He had sent Rs 20,000 to the parents, who are yet to repay their debt.

The government’s compensation of Rs. five lakh has been received by his family which includes Sekar’s sister Ramalakshmi.

The family’s request to the authorities is to provide a government job to Ramalakshmi, who is married.

The village supports the demand for adequate compensation from the U.S. government to the family of victim of the unprovoked firing.

Those responsible for the shooting should be tried in a court of law. M. Muthiah, his uncle, said that they had planned to get Sekar married in October.

The body was taken from the UAE to Tiruchi in an Air India flight and from there by road to the village.