15 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal on board Ajmeersha
The absence of active marine safety systems like GPS or radio tracking devices in the missing fishing vessel, Ajmeersha, has emerged as the biggest hurdle for rescue operators.
For over 10 days, rescue squads, including personnel of the Indian Coast Guard and the Navy, have been on a mission off the Malabar coast for the boat and the 15 missing migrant fishers, apart from coordinating with other regional squads.
According to Fisheries Department sources, officials overseeing the rescue operation have already communicated their dilemma to Fisheries Minister Saji Cheriyan during an online review meeting. They also confirmed that there was also no clarity yet on the safety accessories inside the boat, though the boat owners reiterated that they had complied with all safety guidelines.
“We are yet to get any positive feedback from the Navy or Coast Guard even after an 11-day search. The situation would not have been this critical if active safety devices had been kept in the boat,” said a senior officer with the Fisheries Department. He also pointed out that it was time to check whether the fishers were ill-equipped to fight calamities owing to deliberate negligence on the part of their employers.
Meanwhile, relatives of the missing fishermen have reached Beypore and sought the support of people’s representatives and fellow fishermen to intensify the search. A majority of them are from Tamil Nadu. They have met local fishermen organisation leaders to press for an aggressive combing off the west coast by deploying more squads.
According to the boat owners, there are 11 Tamil Nadu natives and four West Bengal natives in the boat which left Beypore on May 5. “Initially, there were reports that the boat had already been found off the Mangaluru coast, but they were later proved wrong,” they said.
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