Kerala

Fishermen back home after two week-long ordeal

For almost two weeks, the 13 fishermen went through an ordeal, during which they had not much hope of making it back home any time soon.

On Monday afternoon, when they finally got back home, they had relief writ large on their faces. The nine fishermen from Cheriyathura and Valiyathura, and four others from Tamil Nadu, who were stranded in Lakshadweep after their boat sunk in the deep sea, say that they had to go without food on some days, while they waited for days for a way to travel back home.

“We set out on November 6 from Kochi on two boats, with one of them being smaller. We had prepared to fish in the deep waters for about a month. On November 12, when we were near Lakshadweep, one of us noticed that the lower deck of the bigger boat was fast filling with water. In order to get fast to land, we increased the speed of the boat beyond the advisable limits. This led to some kind of short circuiting and the boat soon caught fire. Five of us who were in the bigger boat at that time had a narrow escape, as the other boat reached us on time,” says Sunil Gilbert, one of the fishermen.

Soon, a local diving team aided them to reach the Bangaram island in Lakshadweep, from where they were taken to Agatti Island. They say that one of the local people helped them arrange a stay in a house there. For the first two days, they got food with the help of a family staying nearby. Later, that too stopped. Some of them got in touch with their family members back home, who through the local church tried to get in touch with the fisheries department authorities.

“We contacted the fisheries department as well as the disaster management authorities. Although, they promised to help, no step was taken. It is unfortunate that the fishermen, who put their lives on the line and helped rescue thousands during the floods that hit the State, did not have anyone to help them when they were in danger. Later, we got in touch with Shashi Tharoor, MP, who contacted the authorities in Lakshadweep. The group was put on a ship to Kochi two days ago. The lack of a fisheries ministry at the national level too does not help matters when matters outside the State are involved. The fishermen from Tamil Nadu were also rescued because of intervention from Kerala. Eight others from Tamil Nadu, who ended up in Lakshadweep six months ago, are still stranded there,” says Father Jerome Jose of the Assumption Church in Cheriyathura.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:16:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/fishermen-back-home-after-two-week-long-ordeal/article30098512.ece

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