How many fishermen have died due to Cyclone Ockhi, and how many are still missing? What is the government doing to rescue them exactly?
These are the questione being asked over a week after Cyclone Ockhi wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and there is massive anger among fisher communities against the government.
People from Colachel fishing village in Tamil Nadu were among the thousands of people who staged protests in several parts of the state, demanding that the government do more to bring back missing fishermen. The fishers demanded swift rescue operations and compensation for the next-to-kin of the dead.
Protests at Colachel village. All pictures by Nithin J Kumar.
Protests were also witnessed in several coastal districts of Tamil Nadu even in other parts of the the state.
According to official figures, at least 11 people have died in the cyclone in Tamil Nadu. However, fisher communities say the number could be much more, and are anxious about their family members who havenâ€™t returned from sea so far.
Kanyakumari, the district which is the worst hit. has 427 missing fishermen as of Monday, according to the Collector Sajjansingh R Chavan. However, a fisherman-activist Justin Antony claim the number to be at least 661.
But Chavan said the actual number might be much lesser as many of the fishermen had ventured into the sea on mechanised boats and usually return to the shore only after 30-45 days.
A total of 6000 fishermen took to the streets in Kanyakumari on Thursday but even that failed to evoke any response from the state administration. They alleged that the Coast Guard did not go beyond 200 nautical miles in their search for fishermen.
"They need to go at least upto 400 nautical miles to find bodies. The government is not giving any information on fishermen who have reached Gujarat or Karnataka either," one of the protesters had said.
The protesting fishermen demanded that 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 that have lost its only earning member.
They also called for TN CM Edappadi Palaniswami to personally oversee rescue efforts and meet grieving families.