Kerala

Coast Guard brings home fishermen who fled Yemen

The Indian Coast Guard escorting a Yemeni vessel with nine Indian fishermen who fled following alleged inhuman treatment from their sponsor to the Customs jetty at Fort Kochi on Friday.

The Indian Coast Guard escorting a Yemeni vessel with nine Indian fishermen who fled following alleged inhuman treatment from their sponsor to the Customs jetty at Fort Kochi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

more-in

The nine fishermen set sail for Kochi on a stolen vessel on November 19

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) escorted a Yemeni vessel with nine Indian fishermen to the Customs jetty at Fort Kochi on Friday.

The fishermen — seven from Tamil Nadu and two from Kerala — were forced to undertake a dangerous expedition across the seas on a vessel stolen from their Yemeni sponsor following inhuman living and working conditions.

SAFF appeal

They set sail for Kochi on November 19.

The South Asian Fishermen Fraternity (SAFF) had appealed to the Centre, the Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments and the Indian Coast Guard for assistance to locate the fishermen.

Plan to flee

“They were employed in December 2018, but their sponsor refused to give them a share of the revenue earned from the catch. They were not provided with anything essential for a decent living. They informed their families about their plight before drawing up a plan to flee,” said John Churchill Bas, general secretary of SAFF.

Coast Guard ship Aryaman shepherded the vessel till the fairway buoy from where it was escorted by two interceptor boats to the jetty.

Crucial phone call

What proved critical was a call from near Lakshadweep of a fisherman in distress to his wife at 5.30 a.m. on November 27. The ICG then launched an air-sea coordinated search and rescue operation from its headquarters for Kerala and Mahe as part of which a Dornier aircraft was deployed at 3.30 p.m. on Thursday.

Shortly, the fishing vessel was located around 100 nautical miles west of Kochi following which ICG Ship Aryaman was deployed for rescue. A six-member team boarded and searched it around 12.30 a.m. on Friday. The boarding was tough owing to rough seas, said Coast Guard officials.

Though petrified, the fishermen were cooperative and in need of help, they said. The fishermen had their passports with multiple entries stamped on them. They had mobile phones, while the navigational aide supported by a UAE-based satellite operator was in switched off mode.

Interrogated

The fishermen were interrogated by various agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, Navy, Customs, State Special Branch, emigration and coastal police. Emigration and police officials confirmed that their case prima facie appeared to be genuine and that their addresses were verified.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Kerala
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:27:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/coast-guard-brings-home-fishermen-who-fled-yemen/article30119519.ece

Next Story