No End in Sight to the Miseries of Stranded Lakshadweep Natives - The New Indian Express

No End in Sight to the Miseries of Stranded Lakshadweep Natives

Published: 31st May 2014 09:09 AM

Last Updated: 31st May 2014 09:54 AM

KOCHI: Going home is a distant dream for some of the Lakshadweep natives who visited Kochi recently.

Hundreds of islanders have been stranded here for more than one week, and nothing has been done about it yet.

At present, only four ships are operating from Kochi to Lakshadweep. These ships, which have irregular schedules, carry passengers to ten islands in Lakshadweep.

The islanders wait in queue through day and night, not knowing where the ship will head to in the next schedule. Mini-ships M V Amindivi and M V Minicoy, which carry 150 passengers each, usually stop service after May 15. However, these ships are given additional schedules. But, the ship must return from Lakshadweep and reach Kochi for the officials to decide which island is included in the next schedule. Sometimes, the ship is scheduled to go to just one island, and sometimes to more than one island.

A crew member pointed out that there was no proper schedule for the service of the available ships.

“While one ship is scheduled to go to one place, the next ship should be scheduled to go elsewhere. But, this does not happen. Two or three ships travel to the same place, and as a result many passengers with wait-listed tickets are forced to stay in lodges and wait for their turn.”

Some of the islanders who have been stranded at various places had came to Kochi for medical treatment, while the others are tourists.

Even after undergoing treatment, they are forced to stay in lodges and hotels, spending huge amounts. Schools will re-open in Lakshadweep next week, but students who are waiting for tickets have lost hope of attending classes in the first week.

“I came here with my family. I work in Minicoy and I have two school-going daughters. I have been waiting in the ticket queue for more than a week now. The last trip to Minicoy was scheduled for  ship MV Arabian Sea a week ago. Since then there was no ship that went to the island,” said Mohammed Ali who is waiting for tickets.

A passenger at the ticket counter at Gandhi Nagar alleged that M V Kavaratti, a ship that can carry nearly 700 passengers, had only about 130 vacant seats as the remaining tickets have been blocked for tourists. These 130 tickets were sold within five minutes at three counters, including the ones at Bepur and Willington island. The remaining islanders continue to wait for their turn.

“We are well aware of the issue and the difficulties the islanders are facing. A proper schedule has been set and will be in place by June 1” said Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal.

‘Withdraw False Allegation’

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday demanded that the ‘false’ allegations levelled by an official of the Lakshadweep administration against its members be withdrawn.

According to NCP workers, on Wednesday, they had approached the officer after hundreds of islanders from Lakshadweep got stranded for more than one week. However, since there was no response from the official, the NCP workers entered into the administrative officer’s room.

The officer who was not willing to listen to their woes, filed a complaint with the police. Subsequently, the police registered a case against Kavaratti dweep panchayat president T P Abdul Razak.

The charges slapped against them are under sections 448, 353, 294 B and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

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