NAGERCOIL: Grief writ large on their faces and the uncertainty over the fate of their loved ones forced over 6,000 fishermen families from eight villages to stage a protest, seeking answers to the question that has been lingering ever since Ockhi left a trail of devastation in its wake: where are the missing seafaring men? The protest scene at Kuzhithurai Railway Station near here saw disconsolate members of fishing families demanding the rescue 1000s of fishermen stranded in sea or some missing. The agitation on tracks affected train traffic, leading to cancellation of three trains on Thursday.
Collector Sajjansingh R Chavan attempted to explain to the aggrieved families that many fishermen were safely docked at harbours across the country but the falring tempers failed to cool down, with the agitators demanding that the chief minister visit the affected areas and soothe the frayed nerves with proper assurances and action. Nearly 500 policemen and 100 Railway Police Force personnel were deployed at the spot to keep the flaring tempers from snowballing into violence even as villagers kept joining the protestors in droves.
Later, coastal residents joined hands and walked 20 kms to the railway station from their villages to press for their demands. People of eight fishermen villages - Eraiviputhanthurai, Poothurai, Thoothur, Chinnathurai, Eraimanthurai, Vallavilai, Marthandamthurai and Neerodi - swelled the ranks of the agitators.
Priests and nuns from nearby churches threw their lot with the protestors and joined the march towards the railway station. The numbers kept swelling by the minute as more families joined the file along the tracks.
A woman, whose husband has not yet returned collapsed when other fishermen broke the sad news of her husband drowning in the sea. A 42-year-old woman said, “We will not move until we know the status of our men.”
‘Centre extending all help’
Meanwhile, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan visiting the cyclone-hit region on Thursday said that the Centre was making all efforts to locate the missng fishermen.
Addressing the media persons after a meeting with Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Kanniyakumari Traveler’s Bunglow, Radhakrishnan said, “Tamil Nadu fishermen are safely docked in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Lakshadweep shores and steps are taken to provide the facilities necessary for the fishermen in other states.”
1,949 fishermen safe in other states
Nagercoil: As many as 249 boats and 1969 fishermen have safely reached different harbours of India and officials have been sent to different states to look after their needs. During the press meet at the Collectorate, Monitoring Officer D K Ramachandren said that as many as 249 boats have been docked in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Lakshadweep.
As many as 498 fishermen in 61 boats from Kanniyakumari were docked in Devgad harbour in Maharashtra, 267 on 23 boats in Ratnagiri. Similarly in Lakhsadweep islands, 143 fishermen on 12 boats were docked on the shores of Kalpeni, Andrott, Kiltan, Agati, Bitra, Kadamat, Kavaratti, and Chetlat. In Karnataka, 310 fishermen on 38 boats in Karwar, 665 fishermen on 98 boats were in Maple