Gujarat state minister of forest and tribal development Ramanlal Patkar Friday said that following requests from the state government, the Ministry of External Affairs has assured him that steps are being taken to bring back over 200 fishermen, mostly from the state, who are stuck in Iran after the authorities there shut the nearby airports and barred people’s movement due to the coronavirus scare.
“While most of these men are from Gujarat, some of them are from other states, like Tamil Nadu. After the families of the fishermen approached me, I wrote a letter to S Jaishankar requesting him to make necessary arrangements to bring the men back, as these fishermen are not allowed to go out of the country and airports are also sealed off,” Patkar, who represents Umargam seat of Valsad district, said.
Purported videos of the stranded fishermen have also gone viral on the social media wherein they can be seen seeking help from their family members and relatives to make representations to the Indian government to bring them back. One of the men in the videos was Ramesh Baraiya, a resident of Maroli village in Umargam taluka of Valsad district.
When contacted via WhatsApp, one of the stranded fishermen, Ganesh Bariya from Kalay Machhiwad village in Umargam, Valsad, said, “I was working in a private fishery firm at Kish island. Due to the coronavirus scare, all the factories are shut here and people have been asked not to leave their houses. We are now staying in a boat. The firm owner has supplied us with food and other items. There are many people from Valsad district stranded at Chiruyeh port, Kish Island and Lavan Island and we all want to go back to India. We don’t have access to the Indian Embassy here, as the local authorities have stopped all transport and other facilities.”
After the videos went viral, the family members and relatives of the fishermen met Patkar and sought his help to bring them back to India.
Talking to The Indian Express, Patkar said, “We have got positive response from the foreign ministry. They have told us that steps are being taken to bring them (fishermen) back to India from Iran. They also told us that they have started to contact the fishermen stranded there. We have also sent a list of names and other details of the fishermen from Umargam.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines