NAGERCOIL: In November 2009, Jimmy Kuttan (19) along with seven others from Thoothoor in Kanniyakumari district left for the sea hoping to return home with a sizeable catch. During the night that day, news of Cyclone Phyan brewing in the Arabian sea sent shock waves in the village. The fishermen’s families prayed for their safe return and waited with baited breath. Phyan hit the seas with full might on November 10 midnight. Next morning, the families waited by the shore, slowly grasping that the waves held no miracle in store. The dreams that fell apart that day continue to harrow the families to this day.
Over 12 years have passed. As much as the tragedy, the State government’s apathy has contributed to their misfortunes. The fishermen’s families have still not received any financial assistance from the government. Jimmy Kuttan’s brother had to drop out from school and take up fishing to look after his sisters and parents. All of them have been making do with bare minimum and the authorities have turned a deaf ear to all their requests. This was not actually the case in November 2009. Leaders were very spirited and emotive in announcing assistance for the families. So many welfare aids were written in water then.
According to Kanniyakumari-district based International Fishermen Development Trust (INFIDET) President P Justin Antony, “After an unsuccessful search operation, the authorities had promised support for the families. However, no financial assistance was extended. At least now, the State should come forward to help them. The family members should also be provided government jobs as was done for the families of Cyclone Ockhi victims. A petition in this regard was recently sent to Chief Minister MK Stalin,” he said.
Jimmy Kuttan’s aged parents had run pillar to post for some assistance over the years. With the powers that be not relenting, and their health taking a toll, the elderly couple now raise a final cry for help. When contacted by TNIE, Fisheries Minister Anitha R Radhakrishan said the government will look into the issue.