Almost a month after he died in a Karachi jail in Pakistan, the family of the fisherman from Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, are still waiting for his body to arrive home.
Bhikha Shiyal (35), a resident of Garal village of Una taluka, was among 50 odd fishermen abducted by Pakistan Marine Security Agency, off Jakhau coast on October 25 last year.
He was fishing in a Porbandar-registered Parin trawler along with four others, when he was arraigned by Pakistani authorities and lodged in a Karachi jail since.
Earlier this month, Pakistani authorities informed the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan that Shiyal had died in jail on December 19. The Indian High Commissioner passed the message on to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in Delhi on January 2. Subsequently, the MEA intimated the Gujarat government of the development on January 4.
“After receiving the MEA message, we visited the victim family the follwing day and obtained their permission to claim Shiyal’s body. The required information has been furnished to MEA to take the process further,” Kaushik Thakar, assistant superintendent of fisheries in Porbandar, told The Indian Express on Thursday. Thakar added that the Pakistani authorities did not mention the cause of Shiyal’s death in their intimation letter.
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Shiyal’s death has cast a shadow over the future of his daughter Bhavika (12) and son Pinak (3). “Shiyal was the only brother to four sisters. His wife died two years ago. Now, his children are in the care of his elder sister Soni, who is a casual labourer,” said Ramesh Vansh, president of Sagarputra Samajik Seva Trust, an Una based organisation working for the welfare of fisherman.
Vice-president of the National Fishing Forum (Gujarat), Velji Masani urged the Central and state governments to bring back the body at the earliest. “Last year, the body of a fisherman from Kodinar was brought back from Pakistan 20 days after his death. These delays are extremely testing for family members of fishermen. When the bodies come home after weeks, they are in very a bad shape and add to the shock and sorrow of the relatives,” Masani said.