Mumbai: Like his father, Umesh Tandel (26) too has become a fisherman against his family’s wishes and despite knowing the dangers of sailing close to Pakistani waters in the Arabian Sea. His father, Balwant (45), was one of the four fishermen on the Kuber trawler killed at sea by the 26/11 Pakistani terrorists, including Ajmal Kasab, in 2008.

His mother, Damiyanti, has not overcome the nightmare even seven years later. “There is little choice in Porbandar. One can go to the city to do odd jobs or set off on small trawlers, fishing near the Pakistani border. I did not want my only son to take up that job but he opted for it to support the family,” said Damiyanti.

Umesh, who was 18 when his father was killed, sails for months at a time. He said he was worried about his two grown-up sisters, Jigashaa and Bhagyashree. He said he would not marry until his sisters did so. “All colleagues of my age group have got married in our village.”7 yrs on, kin of fishermen killed in 26/11 await compensation.

Umesh Tandel, Balwant’s son, said, “I became a fisherman two years ago, while my sisters and my mother do embroidery work at home. But a person from Surat takes a commission.”

In fact, the kin of three fishermen, killed by the terrorists are still waiting in Navsari for the Gujarat government to declare them dead so that they can get a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each.

The families of Balwant Tandel, Mukesh Rathod and Natvar Natu made a fresh application to the Gujarat government on November 26. As per government rules, only if a person goes missing and his body is not found for seven years, can he be declared dead and be eligible for compensation.

After the attack, the Gujarat government had offered to pay Rs 2 crore to the families of Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamat and Vijay Salaskar, who were killed in the attack. The Karkare family had rejected the offer. “The Gujarat government was ready to pay Maharashtrian officers so much, but not families of their constituency. Why?” said advocate, Kano Sukhadiya, who is helping the fishermen’s families.

Balwant, Mukesh and Natvar, and captain Amar Solanki were in the Kuber trawler, which was captured by the terrorists near Jakhau, on the border of India and Pakistan. They were killed and their bodies were thrown into the sea. The terrorists took the help of Solanki to reach Mumbai but a few nautical miles before, they killed him, and proceeded in a dingy to Budhwar Park in Colaba, to carry out the attack, killing 166 people and injuring more than 700.

Solanki’s body was found and the government compensated his family with Rs 25 lakh. The three other bodies could not be traced, so they were declared missing. “On November 26, we applied through our sarpanch, Vijay Tandel, to district collector Remya Mohan to hand over the death certificates. The compensation will help our families. My husband had gone to catch fish but he was killed by terrorists. It’s the government’s responsibility,” said Damiyanti Tandel. Mohan told Sukhadiya he had forwarded the application to the Central government.

Luckyben Rathod (80), the grandmother of Mukesh, said, “He was the sole bread-earner of the family. He was to marry soon after his return.”

“The local MLA, R C Patel, gave us Rs50,000. No government official visited us even though the media has been highlighting our plight,” said Dharmishta, widow of Natwar.

Kuber capt’s family migrates to UK

Dilip Solanki, the son of captain Amar Solanki, of the trawler Kuber, shifted to London along with his family after serving the Daman police for nearly three years as sub-inspector. “Dilip resigned as he wanted to make more money, and moved to the UK,” said Vijay Patel, an inspector from Diu. Friends said he was happy doing odd jobs there.

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Source: TOI-MUM