KOLLAM (KERALA): The shooting of two fishermen in the high seas off the Kerala coast by Italian mariners aboard the Enrica Lexie is more than about two deaths. It has condemned two families in the fishing hamlets of Moothakkara in Kollam and Poothurai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu to an uncertain future. The two fishermen—Jelestine alias Valentine, 48, of Moothakkara and Ajesh Pinku, 25, of Poothurai— were the sole breadwinners of their
Jelestine is remembered as a person who was dedicated to his family and his neighbours, a man always ready to serve the needy. Originally from Poothurai, Jelestine settled down at Moothakkara, a little coastal village near the city, after marrying Doramma some 18 years ago.
Jelestine's brother-in-law Francis Xavier said that Jelestine was a hard-working man and kept away from all bad company. “Whenever he returned from fishing expeditions lasting one or even two weeks, he would find time to spend with the family. He was deeply interested in the education of his children and spent a major part of his income on that,” he said.
Jelestine, a pre-degree holder, found time to oversee the studies of his children, Derrick,17, and V Jean,10. Derrick is a Class XII student of St. Aloysius Higher Secondary School, Kollam, and is preparing for his board exams. Jelestien’s younger son V Jean is a Class IV student of Deva Mata School here.
The picture is even more dismal for the family of Ajesh Pinku, who is survived by two sisters, Susmi (17) and Neethu (13). The siblings had lost both their father and mother at a very tender age. The youngster had joined J Fredy, the owner of the boat St. Antony, a year-and-a-half ago, so as to put up money for building a house of his own. Pinku had set out into deep waters after entrusting his sisters’ were well taken care of by a relative of his father.
The respective state governments have announced compensation for the affected families. The Kerala government has announced a solatium of `5 lakh each for the victims' families and has offered a job to Jelestine’s wife, a Class IV post in the state government service. Promises have also been made to meet the expenses for the education of the students and expenses incurred for the legal proceedings. However, the immediate need of the family and the fishermen community is the punishment of the guilty, so that the international community recognises the innocence of the fishermen.