When the family first approached authorities, they said that the boat belonged to someone in Tamil Nadu and hence, could not help the family.

Kerala fisherman dies at sea family allege govt apathy in bringing body backRajimon (Image by arrangement)
news Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 18:47

The fishing community in Thiruvananthapuram’s Kochuthura will receive the body of Rajumon late on Tuesday evening, three full days after he passed away.

On January 11, the 38-year-old fisherman left with nine others from the coast of Kerala to the waters near Gujarat on a fishing expedition. However, mid-sea, he started feeling uncomfortable and passed away on Saturday, January 20. Fellow fishermen kept Rajumon’s body in an ice box they had taken with them to store the fish.

"On Saturday morning, Rajumon said he was feeling uneasy. He had severe loose motion and was constantly throwing up. We made him lie down and take rest, but he passed away that evening. We informed his family that day itself,” said Jerome, one of the fishermen on the boat.

Three days later, his body is being brought back so the last rites can be conducted.

His family has alleged government apathy as the cause for this delay.

Speaking to TNM, Rajumon's cousin Ani said that the Kerala government had initially refused to help them bring back the body via road. 

"When our Ward member spoke to government officials seeking help, they refused to intervene saying that the boat in which they went fishing was owned by a native of Tamil Nadu and so the Kerala government wasn't responsible for helping us out," Ani said. 

Fisherfolk were forced to resort to holding protests, blocking the Poovar-Vizhinjam highway on Monday, in a bid to highlight their problem.

Rajumon's family – with the help of local representatives – then met Thiruvananthapuram Collector Vasuki and sought her intervention. 

"When we met the Collector, she said that the fishermen could go to Ratnagiri, which was the closest for them," Ani said. 

Once they reached Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, requisite arrangements were made to conduct Rajumon’s post-mortem and medical assistance was provided to the others on the boat.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the fishermen that Rajumon’s body would be transported to Kerala via road.

"Total 9 persons were on the boat; 1 lost life, 5 left with boat & 3 with body," he said in a tweet in response to Thiruvananthapuram Congress MP Shahshi Tharoor’s request seeking the Maharashtra CM's intervention. 

Back home, Rajumon’s family is glad that the body is coming back soon.

"The other people on the boat were thinking about returning home via the sea itself. But it would have taken them at least 4-5 days to come. They were not able to go to Ratnagiri without the Kerala government's intervention. Help did come, but it has come terribly late," Ani said. 

Jerome, however, is thankful that the body is being brought back via the roads.

“We had already started back home via the sea when we got a call from the Collector saying that we should go to Ratnagiri. We would have reached only at the end of the week if not the intervention,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts, the Thiruvananthapuram Collector could not be contacted for a response.