Rajan, a fisherman from Kolachal and the captain of ‘Manu Mon’ was trawling the ocean bed for fish, around six to seven hours from the Beypore North coast in Kozhikode. Suddenly, the most shocking thing got caught in his net – a decomposing corpse.
According to Rajan’s friend Fasal Rahman, the men had to discard the corpse into the water as they didn’t have a place to store the body. The decomposing corpse also gave off a putrid smell.
“The men were to return to the coast only after five or six days and would have had to preserve the decomposing body along with the fish they caught,” Fasal said, while speaking to TNM.
The incident occurred over one-and-a-half months after cyclone Ockhi wreaked havoc in coastal Kerala, leaving several dead and over 300 missing.
Disturbed after seeing the body, Rajan apparently moved the boat away and anchored the trawler for the night.
Fasal also said that the body must have been floating between rock clusters in the ocean bed when it got caught in Rajan’s net.
“The nets are cast deep into the ocean bed to catch the fish swimming between the rock clusters. The corpse must have been floating between the rocks and unknowingly, Rajan must have got it,” said Fasal.
Rajan did not venture into the sea for over a month after the cyclone ravaged his village, as he was very disturbed.
“This was his first expedition after that and he is clearly upset that the corpse turned up in his net,” said Fasal.
He added that the men did not inform the authorities until now as they wanted to avoid the hassle that would follow a formal complaint.
“However, we informed a few press people who wanted to cover the incident,“ he said.
However, he believes that this might not be an isolated incident and that there might be other fishers who have recovered bodies.
“They, however, refuse to reveal it due to several reasons,” Fasal said.
One particular reason is the fear of decreasing sales as consumers might refrain from buying fish that have consumed human flesh.
“This is completely false. If that was the case, there would be no corpse at all as the fish would have eaten the remains entirely. Fishes such as sardines (chaala) and mackerel (aila) feed on planktons and are very safe to consume,” he said.
The incident also took a toll on their catch, as the fishers on the trawler were only able to catch fish worth only Rs 5 lakhs.
“We need to catch fish worth a lakh or more a day. Otherwise, it is an utter waste going to sea. We spend around Rs 2.5 lakh on diesel itself for each expedition,” said Fasal.
When asked about the missing fishermen, Fasal said, “There is no use of even hoping to recover their bodies now”.