Back home in Tamil Nadu after ordeal

Back home in Tamil Nadu after ordeal

More than seven months after they survived a shooting attack from a US Navy’s refuelling ship off the Jebel Ali port, five Indian fishermen reached their homes in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.



Six Indians and two Emiratis were aboard a fishing trawler when it was shot at by security guards on board the US Navy’s refuelling ship, USNS Rappahannock, on July 16, 2012. One Indian fisherman, Arumugam Sekar, was killed and three others sustained bullet injuries in the incident that made headlines across the world.

The local authorities have finally allowed the Indian survivors to fly home, a request they had raised soon after the incident.

The men said they were happy to be united with their families. However, they lamented that they were not given justice as there was no word of judgment in the case and no ample compensation.

Jobless ever since the incident, they said their sponsor had given Dh3,000 each to the three injured and Dh1,000 to the two who escaped without injury, before sending them from Dubai.

Murugan, 41, who was lucky to have escaped unhurt, said from India: “We don’t know anything about the case. The sponsor took signatures from four of us for cancelling our visas. I’m sad that he did not even give us the pending salaries.”

Muthu Muniraj, who was hospitalised for several months due to the bullet injuries, said he still required a crutch to move around. His sister Jaya Senthil said the compensation amount his family received so far was just enough to repay the debts they had incurred to send Muniraj abroad. The US government had offered an ex-gratia solatium of Rs500,000 to the family of the deceased, and Rs50,000 to each family of the three injured.

This followed the government of Tamil Nadu, where the fishermen hail from, issuing a similar payment to support the victims.

However, the fishermen, whose lives were jeopardised after the shooting had demanded that their government should have forced the US authorities to provide a higher compensation in the lines of the out-of-court payment offered by the government of Italy in a similar case.

In April last year, the Italian authorities offered Rs10million each to the families of two fishermen from Kerala who were shot dead by Italian marines on board ‘Enrica Lexie’ ship.

The Indian Ambassador to the UAE, M.K. Lokesh, said the Indian Consulate in Dubai had allotted a fund for the men’s sustenance. He said the last update he was given about the murder case registered by the Dubai Police was that prosecutors would be transferring the case to a court soon. Dubai Public Prosecution could not be reached for an immediate comment.

sajila@khaleejtimes.com


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