There was not a moment’s delay. The Chief Minister and others on the dais did not want to make them wait – the saviours who rescued Kerala at the worst of times. Fishermen. Thousands of them.
After a few brief speeches from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan and Chief Secretary Tom Jose, fishermen from various parts of the state were felicitated in Thiruvananthapuram, with a golden shawl, an amount of Rs 3000 and other gifts.
“They did not know of this gift. They did not know if the boats they took out would come back fine. They went out into the floods without thinking of anything, without thinking of money or their own lives or their families, to save the thousands trapped. Giving you a big salute from Kerala,” the Chief Minister said.
As many as 669 boats went out with 4537 fishermen, and they would have saved at least 65000 lives, according to official figures, Tom Jose said.
"The reason it took the government so long to honour the fishermen is because there would have been injuries even if these were not visible outside", the CM said. “It was not right to ask them to come too soon,” the CM said. He also recalled the services of the Air force, the Navy and the Paramilitary, the state police and the fire force. The CM also spoke of the services of the younger generation who ‘jumped into rescue missions without getting orders from anyone’. “This is the sign that the future of our state is safe in the hands of responsible youth,” Pinarayi said.
In his speech, the Chief Minister spoke about how the water kept rising even after all the forces came. The rescue operations were not reaching everywhere and that’s when they thought of the men who knew water so well, who went out into the waters for their livelihood on a daily basis. “We had trust in their strength and their survival skills. Fishermen were brought from different parts of the state, with the help of the police. They were courageous and dynamic. They became the most important aspect of the rescue mission,” the CM said.
He also spoke of the two young men, Arun Nella and Ajomon who came from the US after a fundraiser campaign through Facebook, bringing an amount of Rs 10 Crore for the CM's Disaster Relief fund. "This is the kind of land we live in. It shows our unity and oneness. To help, to join in, people from different parts of the world are coming... we can rebuild Kerala with all their help into bigger heights."
TNM had done a series of stories with fishermen. You can read them here.