It's raining acknowledgements for Kerala's fishermen. After Shashi Tharoor nominated them for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in the Kerala flood rescue missions in August 2018, it is now the turn of college students to honour them.
Students from Punnapra College of Engineering and Management (CAPE) in Alappuzha invited them as the chief guests to inaugurate the activities of the college union on Thursday.
Union members said they decided to invite the fishermen to the event instead of celebrities from socio-cultural fields to show their respect and gratitude for the community's contributions.
TA Rajesh, who was the first fisherman to sign in for the rescue missions in Alappuzha, and C Shamji, district secretary of the Malsya Thozhilaali Union (union of the fishermen), jointly lit the lamp at the campus.
"Chengannur was among the worst-hit areas in the whole state. They set an example and inspired others from the community to join the missions which was no small thing. Their valour and service need to be honoured and hence we decided to invite them for the inauguration instead of any cine artists," said Aneesh A Kumar, Magazine Editor of the college.
"When Rajesh narrated the story refusing to accept gold ornaments from a family (as a reward) who they rescued in Chengannur, the entire hall burst into claps. Similarly, there was absolute silence when he told about getting a call from a little girl, pleading for help from a flooded house," the union member said.
Rajesh was among the fishermen who led rescue operations in Chengannur's Kallissery. His boat was severely damaged during the operations.
College unions are in charge of running extra-curricular activities in the college including the annual youth festival and sports meet. Usually, the inauguration and College Day (valedictory day) of the student body is conducted with great panache and marked by the presence of popular personalities as guests.
SFI leads the college union in the college. Last year it was cine artist Vinay Fort and state PWD Minister G Sudhakaran who inaugurated the union.
Fishermen from major fishing centres in the state had reached the worst-hit Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts with their boats after unprecedented rains and the opening of sluice gates of dams spread misery. The World Bank had estimated that around Rs 25,000 crore is needed to rebuild the state.
While the Army and Navy concentrated their efforts in town areas, the fishermen rescued people stranded in remote areas. 483 people lost their lives in the disaster, according to official records.