Madurai: Fifty-eight Indian fishermen (40 from Tamil Nadu and 18 from Kerala) working in Iran are stranded after 680 fellow fishermen were repatriated in INS Jalashwa in the last week of June. While the fellow fishermen reached Tuticorin on July 1, completed the mandatory quarantine and returned home, these left out fishermen faced a lot of hardships as their exit visa was stamped and their ex-employers were not ready to take them back.
After a lot of struggles, they have managed to reach Assaluyeh and stayed in three rooms. They were unable to arrange for Rs 25,000 needed for a flight to India as they had not been to work for more than four months and their families were clueless about arranging the money as the men in Iran were the sole bread winners. L Praveen, general secretary, Maritime People Welfare Association, Chennai, came across their plight.
Knowing that Captain Sanjay Prashar from Himachal Pradesh, chairman of International Maritime Federation (IMF), helped many seafarers return home, Praveen reached out to him on Twitter on July 1. The latter readily agreed to help the fishermen and sponsored their travel costs. He also travelled from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi to meet cabinet minister (for Jal Shakti) Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on the issue on July 6.
“I handed over the list of 58 fishermen and sought his intervention of the government to expedite the clearance of the documents. On the minister’s order the government machinery cleared the papers, get the e-passes and logistics required. On July 10, we paid the charge for the chartered flight from Tehran to Delhi. The fishermen will fly from Tehran on Tuesday night and reach Delhi in the early hours of Wednesday,” he said.
Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor congratulated Sanjay Prashar on twitter for his noble effort and thanked him for covering tickets of the fishermen stranded in Iran. “Sanjay Prashar has come out of the way to help our men, bore the tickets and also worked on the repatriation process,” says activist Charles Johnson who is coordinating the repatriation of 700 odd Indian fishermen from Iran since February.
The fishermen started from Assaluyeh to Tehran on road in two buses on Monday evening and are expected to cover around 1,300km on road before they catch the flight to Delhi at 10.45pm on Tuesday. Mohamed Abuthahir, Chennai branch manager of Sanjay Prashar’s company, and Ujjawal B Choudhary, director of IMF, are coordinating the repatriation.
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