OF the 34 fishermen who went to sea in three trawlers on March 24 and 25, three have returned ashore; 21 have been found dead. The search for those missing will be on for another day or two.
This is not the first time such an incident has taken place. Pirates are commonly on the lookout for fishing trawlers, with crew and valuables in them. The rewards of such piracy are manifold — trawlers and parts, as well as valuables worth lakhs such as high-end fishing nets and machinery, are looted and sold off, while crew members
are held for ransom.
While killing on such a large scale is not common, sea robbery is. Yet the authorities have shown little concern thus far. In fact, the first bodies were recovered by relatives of the crew members who set out to sea themselves after receiving news of bodies floating on to the shores, as, according to them, the police did not help them. Such reluctance on the part of the local authorities is problematic.
On a larger scale, too, greater precautions must be taken, especially in places which have been identified as dangerous to fishers. The government should not only investigate this particular incident but also be vigilant in future in order to avoid similar tragedies. The larger illegal trade of pirated goods must also be unearthed and dismantled and the pirates brought to book.
Fishersmen encounter enough dangers as it is, out on the rough seas for weeks, sometimes months, away from the comforts of home and family, simply to earn a living. Threats from pirates not only to their livelihoods but to their lives as well is not something they should also have to fear. We hope the government will take up the matter urgently and provide relief not only to the families affected in this instance but also reassurance of safety to those who will venture out on the seas in future.