CHENNAI: A 47-year-old fisherman from Rajakkamangalam Thurai in Kanyakumari district was shot dead on Wednesday evening off the Bahrain coast by Iranian pirates, Indian diplomats in the Gulf state said.¬†
Thomas Soosai and six other employees of Manama-based Abbas company were on a fishing trip when the pirates struck, Ram Singh, first secretary (community welfare) at the Indian Embassy in Bahrain, told TOI over phone. “The pirates opened indiscriminate fire, killing Thomas on the spot. The others managed to escape by giving away some valuables to the pirates,” he said.
Ram Singh said members of the Bahrain coast guard rushed to the spot on hearing of the incident and rescued the shocked fishermen. Soosai’s body was sent for post mortem and would be handed over to his family after completion of investigations, he said.
Condemning the incident, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Trust founder president Justin Antony demanded a thorough probe to bring the guilty to book and said the family should be compensated adequately as Soosai was the sole breadwinner.
Despite the low wages and complaints of frequent arrests, hundreds of fishermen from Tamil Nadu continue to join fishing companies in Gulf countries and incidents like the one in which Thomas Soosai was killed were not uncommon, sources said.
In July 2012, fisherman Sekar of Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district was killed and three others were seriously injured when an American naval ship opened fire on their boat off the Dubai coast. The Bahrain-based US fifth fleet said one of its ships fired on the boat after all warnings to stop went unheeded.
As many as 30 fishermen, including 27 from Tamil Nadu, were arrested by the authorities in Qatar for straying into their waters from Ajman in the UAE earlier.