“My four-year-old son was saying that his father will return home tomorrow and get him an ice cream, but his hopes have been shattered,” said Jansi Rani, 32, wife of R. Wilson, one of the five fishermen awarded death sentence by the Colombo High Court on charges of drug trafficking.
Staging a road blockade at Thangachimadam along with scores of men and women protesting against the verdict, Jansi Raniwept uncontrollably as she recalled her son Jogans’s anxiety on Wednesday after they were told the Colombo High Court would deliver the verdict on Thursday.
For a middle-aged mother and four young women in Thangachimadam, the verdict was a rude shock as they came to the road along with other women to fight for justice and the safe return of their breadwinners.
Life turned a nightmare to them ever since their breadwinners were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on November 29, 2011. The five fishermen - P. Emerson ,39; P. Augustin, 32; R. Wilson, 42; K. Prasad, 32; and J. Langlet, 22, had set out for fishing on November 28, 2011, with fishing permits. But, the trip landed them in trouble.
The Lankan Navy arrested them under Sections 54A and B of the Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance Act, 1984 read with Section 218 of the Code of Procedure and the case was being fought before the Colombo High Court.
“My husband spoke to me yesterday [Wednesday], but was scared of the verdict,” said Skenitta, 26, the youngest of the five women. Her husband Prasath spoke to her on Wednesday and feared as how the verdict would be. She had asked him not to worry, saying he is innocent and would be released.
It was hardly two months since she conceived her second child, when her husband was arrested, she said. Jayesh is now two-and-a-half years old and he is yet to see his father
“My husband became mentally ill in the prison and he has not spoken to me for more than a year now,” cried Emerson’s wife Lavanya. She manages the family with a monthly assistance given by the government but could not answer when the children — seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son — ask about their father, she said. She too was four months pregnant when her husband was arrested and the boy is yet to see his father, she rued.
J. Infanta, mother of Langlet, cried uncontrollably as her only son is in prison for more than two years.
U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen, said steps were taken to appeal against the High Court order in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.