Over 6K Ockhi-Hit Kanyakumari Fishermen Hold ‘Rail Roko’ Protest
The fishermen, led by a few priests, have alleged inaction on the part of the government in helping rescue the missing fishermen.
The fishermen, led by a few priests, have alleged inaction on the part of the government in helping rescue the missing fishermen.(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Over 6K Ockhi-Hit Kanyakumari Fishermen Hold ‘Rail Roko’ Protest

A week after Cyclone Ockhi wreaked havoc along the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, fishermen from eight villages in Kanyakumari are holding a rail roko agitation at the Kulithurai railway station.

Over 6,000 protesters are refusing to move from the tracks of the station till the government promises to fulfill their demands regarding the missing fishermen.

Following the cyclone, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed that 97 fishermen were missing from Tamil Nadu. Parish priests, however, submitted a report stating that 234 fishing boats and over 2,000 fishermen were missing.

Now, fishermen, led by the priests, have alleged inaction on the part of the government in helping rescue the missing fishermen. According to them, 1,113 fishermen are still missing from their villages while 74 have died.

"Despite these shocking numbers, the government has done almost nothing to speed up the rescue efforts," says Father Churchill, General Secretary of South Asian Fishermen Fraternity.

"We started the demonstration at 8 am and have walked 15 km to reach this station. Women, children and even the elderly are part of this protest and we won't leave till we get justice," he adds.

The protesters said that the Kerala Government was doing a far better job at rescuing its fishermen.
The protesters said that the Kerala Government was doing a far better job at rescuing its fishermen.
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
The fishermen have put forth three major demands. The first is for warships and helicopters to be deployed to rescue the missing fishermen. The second is for immediate compensation for the loss of lives and boats to fisherfolk.

They are demanding that a government job be provided to families who have lost their only earning member. The third is for Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to personally oversee rescue efforts and meet grieving families.

When he can take part in MGR centenary celebrations, can he not come visit these families? Even the Governor is in Kanyakumari on Thursday. He must come to the site of protest and listen to our demands.
Father Churchill, General Secretary of South Asian Fishermen Fraternity

The protesters further stated that the Kerala Government was doing a far better job at rescuing its fishermen and the Tamil Nadu government should learn to emulate their efforts.

When TNM contacted the Disaster Management and Mitigation Department over the death toll in Kanyakumari on Wednesday, 6 December, we were told that it was only 10. Of this, only two were from the villages that are protesting, according to Dr K Satyagopal, the Principal Secretary. He could, however, not offer a number regarding the missing fishermen.

(The copy has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)

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