A week after an Indian fisherman was shot dead off the Katchatheevu islet, those on board the boat with him allege that Bridgo could have been saved if the Government and Coast Guard had responded on time.
On March 6, an Indian boat carrying 6 fishermen from Rameswaram were allegedly attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy. At around 9pm, the fishermen were subjected to heavy gunfire. 22-year-old Bridgo was killed in the shooting while another fisherman, Saron was severely injured.
"We desperately called the heads of our fishing association, to help us and save Bridgo. In addition to this, our engine froze after some time and the we couldn't move. " says Saron.
Emerite, President of the Visaipadagu Meenavar Sangam who received these calls for help, says he immediately dived into action. "I called the fisheries department and alerted the commissioner and secretary. But no help reached the men who were out at sea. Till 10.20 pm, I kept trying various people on the phone, hoping that they will get to the boat on time to give first aid to Bridgo and make sure he survives. If they had responded on time, that young man will still be alive. He died without anybody even trying to save him," says Emerite angrily.
32-year-old Saron had been manning the boat when they were attacked and he recalls how the glass in front of him shattered and pierced his body. "But more than this pain, it is the memory of Bridgo, that hurts me," he says. "Before he died he kept crying and begging us to save him. For 30 minutes, he said 'Please save me, please save me'. We couldn't do anything. When he realised it was all going to end, he told me, 'Anna, please take care of my mother'. That was the last thing he said," he chokes.
This revelation from the fishing community in Rameswaram comes to light even as the Fisheries Department maintained that Bridgo was shot in the neck and died on the spot.