FAMILIES of sailors stranded in ships in deep sea today staged a silent protest outside the house of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant asking the Goa Government to intervene. Of the 24 who assembled, a few dispersed after the Chief Minister spoke to them on phone, while 15 were booked under bailable offences, after they refused to leave the premises, according to Goa Police.
According to estimates, over 8,000 seafarers of Goan origin are stranded in deep sea and in ports across the world, waiting to be repatriated back home.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Sawant added, “This decision is at the hands of the Centre and we are waiting for the SOP and guidelines to be released. For now we have been informed there are three different ways that have been finalised by DG Shipping for repatriation, this include for sailors in vessels of Indian flags, those in deep sea, and those stranded in ports . The details have been shared with MHA who will then make a final decision.”
The issue of seafarers has been a serious case in Goa, with Churchill Allemao, NCP MLA writing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 29 with follow ups still in progress. “We understand that it’s the centre that has to allow for flights to enter with the sea farers. We only have one appeal. If we are making efforts to get tourists from Goa, all foreigners reach their respective country, and allowing their flights to cross our airspace, then why cannot we do the same in getting the sea farers back?” Allemao told The Indian Express.
On Wednesday, the police after having failed in getting the spouses and families of seafarers back home booked 15 of them under various sections of IPC. Most sections are for violation of Section 144 and lockdown guidelines of the state and centre government, police said. “The CM is not giving us any assurance or a deadline on getting them back to Goa,” said Gina Pereira, a wife of a seafarer who called for the protest. While the opposition has called it “unjust and unfortunate”, civil society drafted a letter later in the evening condemning the detention.
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