Fishermen fraternity seeks agency like Norka Roots for Tamil expatriates


Call to recognise genuine groups working for fishers’ welfare

The South Asian Fishermen Fraternity (SAFF), an organisation working for the well-being of fishermen community, has demanded that the Tamil Nadu government set up an agency on the lines of Norka Roots of the Kerala government for the benefit of non-resident Tamils.

The demand comes in the wake of the rescue of nine fishermen, including seven from Tamil Nadu, by the Indian Coast Guard on Friday. SAFF was instrumental in bringing the plight of the fishermen, who fled Yemen in the face of inhumane treatment by their sponsor and reached Kochi on Friday, to the notice of the two governments.

“At present, there is no such agency for Tamilians in distress. The Tamil Nadu government should set up an agency like Norka Roots to address this shortcoming, especially in West Asia,” said SAFF general secretary John Churchill Bas.

SAFF also plans to make a slew of demands to the Union government in the wake of what it regards as the first-of-its-kind incident in which fishermen had to flee from near captivity-like situation in a boat from Yemen.

According to the fraternity, the Centre must recognise authentic organisations working for the welfare of fishermen and authorise them to meet fishers detained in foreign lands and arrange help for them. “The government must also deploy a spokesperson at embassies in West Asia exclusively for Indian fishermen in distress. The government should also constantly monitor sponsors employing Indian fishermen and ensure that they receive fair treatment, including regular remuneration and insurance,” Mr. Churchill Bas said.

SAFF also demanded a more sympathetic response from Indian embassies, especially in West Asia, to the plight of Indian fishermen in distress. The organisation accused embassies of being often dismissive or indifferent to problems facing fishermen.

“Often fishermen don’t even know the location of embassies, forget about approaching them. Even if they were to approach local labour courts, they end up facing false cases foisted on them by sponsors. Embassies then insist on clearing such cases before extending help, which is beyond the capabilities of fishermen in an alien land,” Mr. Churchill Bas added.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:13:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/fishermen-fraternity-seeks-agency-like-norka-roots-for-tamil-expatriates/article30127083.ece

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