Two fishermen from Gujarat were left adrift on a buoy,a ball-like object made of plastic,in the Arabian Sea for two days without food or water since none of their brethren would take them on board despite their frantic pleas for help for the fear a repeat of 26/11 and harassment by intelligence agencies.
Four years after terrorists from Pakistan hijacked an Indian fishing trawler to reach Mumbai and stage attacks,fishermen from Gujarat are still shy of following their age-old unspoken code of not leaving behind even the dead bodies of their community members in the high waters.
Fazhrat Ali (26) and his cousin Sarafar Ali (21),both from Okha in Jamnagar district,were among the 85 Indian fishermen on board 13 boats who were caught by the personnel of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) on April 27.
On the same evening,PMSA released 72 of them while keeping the 13 boats and their tandels (captains) with them.
That was when Shri Ganesh,whose captain was Fazhrat,developed a problem and reported water-logging. Since the PMSA was not interested in keeping a damaged boat,they released Fazhrat and his boat.
Fazhrat,however,asked for at least a man to be sent with him. Accordingly,Sarafat,and another boat Saagar Samrat,which was also damaged,were released near the International Maritime Border Line off Jhakhau coast in Kutch district.
On April 28,we got on a buoy. Soon,we spotted a trawler named Kalyani and made pleas for help,but in vain. The crew on board Kalyani had their own fears about taking strangers,though Indians,on their boat. We have never faced this before 26/11, said Sarafat,who along with Fazhart,was interrogated by various Indian agencies upon their arrival at Okha port in Jamnagar district on May 2.
As luck would have it,a trawler from Okha,named Shri Puja,spotted us on May 1. After we answered all their queries to their satisfaction,they took us on board, said Fazrat.
The Ali brothers feel they would have not returned safe eventually had it not been for the Okha connection.
Shiv Puja later took them to another vessel Kuntiputra,which was on its way back to Okha.
The incident has left the fishing community shaken. This is shocking. It only reflects the growing distrust that 26/11 attack has left behind on our fishermen, says Velji Masani,a veteran leader of the fishing community. We never even say no to carrying dead bodies. Here,it was a question of two lives.