Uncertainty prevails over stand of crew
The ships and barges operating between Lakshadweep and the mainland will resume service soon, marking the end of a five-day-long strike by ship crew unions, said a release issued from the office of the Administrator of the Union Territory on Thursday.
However, sources said that crew members had not expressed their willingness to report for duty till late Thursday night. As such, no announcement for passengers who had been stranded since the start of the strike had been made out of fear that if they turned up and ships could not be operated, it would lead to fresh crisis, the sources said.
The release said that three important decisions were taken at two marathon all-party meetings held by the Administrator over Wednesday and Thursday.
Lakshadweep Development Corporation Limited (LDCL) authorities had deputed the Lakshadweep Marine Superintendent to take care of the post-death formalities of Shameem Ali Yousuf of Minicoy, a helmsman on m.v. Bharat Seema, who died last Friday when the vessel was docked at the Kochi port. The officer, however, failed to turn up.
The unions went on strike alleging that LDCL had failed to take care of its employee who died on duty and that no one from the LDCL bothered to pay a visit while the body was in hospital for post-mortem or when the body was taken to Kozhikode where it was interred.
The release said that the meeting decided to hold an inquiry into the incident immediately. Another decision was to ask the official concerned to go on forced leave till the completion of the inquiry. Meanwhile the ships and barges will set sail immediately, the release summed up the third decision.
It was also decided that the LDCL official concerned would tender an apology.
The sources said the Lakshadweep Administration and the LDCL had made all arrangements to operate four vessels – two in the forenoon and two in the afternoon – between Lakshadweep and the mainland as per schedule. “We will be able to operate the services at a short notice of three hours, provided the crew cooperated,” the sources said.