For the last decade or so,J Freddy,in his thirties,has been earning his livelihood by fishing in the waters off the Kerala coast. But now,a week after his fishing boat came under fire from Italian ship Enrica Lexie,Freddy says,I have decided not to venture into the sea anymore.
But who will buy the bloodstained boat, asks Freddy,originally from Tamil Nadu but now settled in Kollam.
Freddy and his 10-member team left Neendakara fishing harbour on February 7. With enough rations and fuel,they planned to remain at sea for about three weeks.
But their plans were cut short on February 15,when they lost two crew members,Jelestine,50,and Pinku,22,to the hail of bullets from the Italian ship. Pinku had joined the boat just three months back as his grandfather was also working there.
Except Jelestine and me,all the others were asleep in the afternoon. Since that days catch was disappointing,we were moving south at 10 km per hour, recalls Freddy.
Tired after steering the boat for several hours,Freddy too went for a short nap. Jelestine took control of the boat. The last thing I asked him was whether any boat was coming in our lane, he says.
Half an hour later,the sound of firing woke me up. I saw Jelestines hands slowly leaving the steering wheel. Blood was flowing from his nose and ears, says Freddy.
I saw a ship 250 to 300 metres from the boat, he says,adding that he immediately alerted the rest of his team that the ship men are firing… lie down. If not for the warning,the casualties may have been higher.
Freddy then steered the boat in the opposite direction. There was a shower of bullets. I heard a scream from the rear of the boat. I drove away at maximum speed,only stopping two nautical miles away. We then went to the back of the boat,where we saw Pinku,with blood gushing out from his chest, says Freddy. He informed a boat at the Neendakara harbour,which in turn alerted the coastal police station.