SRIKAKULAM: Fifty-year-old Mailapalli Sanyasi Rao and his 20-year-old son Rambabu from D Mastalesma in Srikakulam district, never would have imagined when they left for Gujarat on August 5 this year that they would fall afoul of the Pakistan Coast Guard on high seas of Arabian Sea.
The father-son duo was among the 22 fishermen who were nabbed by Pakistan authorities on Wednesday when they strayed into neighbouring country’s territorial waters. A similarly fate has befallen Surada Appa Rao and his two sons Kishore (19) and Kalyan (18) of K Matsalesam of the district.
Leaving behind his wife and daughter, Appa Rao took his two sons to Gujarat for better earnings after finding it difficult to make both ends meet in his village. As the earnings of one person are hardly enough to meet the needs of the family, fishermen take their children along to Gujarat so that they can cook food and do other chores during fishing in the deep sea. Cooking food, cleaning plates, vessels, collecting fish fall to the lot of minors on the boats.
With the fate of those nabbed by Pakistan hanging in balance, there is a question mark on the survival of their families back home. It has almost been two days since Mailapalli Yeramma, wife of Sanyasi Rao and their 15-year old son, have eaten anything. “After they left, they have not sent a single rupee. Now, we do not know where they are and we are worried,” said Yerramma expressing concern over the fate of her husband and son.
Kesini Thotamma is worried for her son Raju (20), who is among the fishermen arrested by Pakistan authorities. Her husband Ammoru is working in another boat at Veraval in Gujarat, hence he is safe. “To make money for the marriage of my two daughters, my husband and son went to Gujarat on 11 August. We have been managing from the earnings of one person and depositing the wages of others in the bank for the marriage,” she said.
According to her, they did not have even a cent of land or any source of employment in the village, hence her husband and son were forced to migrate to support the family. The duo had sent money to the family two months ago and a month ago, they spoke to the family members. Now, they are distressed over Raju’s fate and pray for his safe return.
Fisherfolk of these coastal villages in Srikakulam says that they expect steady income by working in fishing vessels in Gujarat, Maharashtra and other places.While adults get `12,000 to `14,000, minors are paid up to `8,000 per month in Gujarat. When the menfolk migrate in search of jobs, the womenfolk make do with what they have and take loans to support family in the hope of clearing the debts when their men return.
All the fishermen from Srikakulam villages, who migrated to Gujarat and other places are expected to return to their respective villages by Pongal. Now, just a few weeks before their return, 22 fishermen were nabbed by Pakistan.
The harried families of the fishermen who are in the custody of Pakistani authorities complain that though several officials have been visiting their villages since Wednesday, they are not providing any information regarding whereabouts of their men.
District fisheries department joint director VV Krishna Murthy said that according to Gujarat fisheries department officials about 22 fishermen were captured by the Pakistan Coast Guard officials. While 14 were from Srikakulam, five from Vizianagaram and details of the other three are yet to be ascertained, he added.
Fishermen sent to judicial remand
Karachi: The AP fishermen arrested by Pakistani authorities for allegedly straying into the country’s territorial waters were produced before a magistrate’s court here on Friday. Later, the fishermen were remanded in judicial custody. They will now be sent to Landhi jail. The fishermen were arrested on Thursday by personnel of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) during an operation.