Eight fishermen of Kasimedu, who returned home on Thursday after nearly 70 days — 55 days at sea and the rest in Myanmar — said they wanted only one thing: the family of their colleague Babu must be adequately compensated.
“Yes, we are back home. But there is no cause for celebration. We are saddened by his death. He did not resurface after getting into the water to anchor the boat against cyclonic winds. He has two school-going children, and their education and future must be taken care of by the government,” said K. Raghu, the boat driver.
The fishermen, who arrived from Delhi after COVID-19 tests, said they thought they could return by sea, which was why they wanted to ensure the safety of the craft. “But despite our best efforts, it sank. The boat-owner, too, has lost over ₹70 lakh… The government should consider some kind of relief for him too,” he added.
Recalling the ordeal, the men said they had turned off the engines after casting the net, as was their practice. But when they tried starting it the next morning, it did not work. The battery ran down while they tried to repair the craft after which communication devices, too, stopped working. “The rations lasted till the 28th day after which we caught some fish now and then and ate them boiled. Then, on some days, it was just plain water,” said V. Parthiban, another fisherman.
Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said the State had taken steps to search for the men when they went missing. It had also coordinated with the Centre and the Myanmar government to bring them back.