Mumbai Feb 29
At least 350 fishermen and contract workers, from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and other states who had gone to Iran in search of employment, have been stranded there for the past few weeks due to the coronavirus scare.
The fishermen are from Valsad, Maroli, Kalgam, Dandi, Nargol and adjoining areas of Gujarat. They had gone to Iran in July-August on fishing contracts, under which they are hired by Iranian contractors to do fishing. They are also given some monetary benefits besides, regular wages.
Every year the Indian fishermen go to Iran and return after the fishing season is over. They are officially given temporary visa for “Bandar-e-Chiru” by Iranian authorities. Some fishermen go to Iran via Dubai. Similarly workers doing skilled as well unskilled jobs visit Iran for temporary duration.
On Thursday, the family members of the hundreds of fishermen complained and reached out to the authorities. Following this, the BJP MLA and Gujarat Minister of State for Forest and Tribal Welfare from Umbergaon (Valsad), Ramanlal Patkar, forwarded a letter to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), asking for help to rescue the stranded fishermen. In the mail sent to the MEA, he has stated that he spoke to the youngsters who are stuck in Iran as well.
In a video that has emerged from Iran, it shows that the fishermen standing in the middle of empty land and stating their grievances as well. They are stating that all of them are from Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and that they can’t get any flights out of the country. Since then, all flights have been cancelled.
In a telephonic conversation with IT, Patkar, said these fishermen are stuck at Bandar-e-Chiru of Hormozgan province in Iran and could not return to India as Iranian authorities have sealed the airports and not allowing people to go out of the country. Many of the stranded fishermen are from Umbargaon and other surrounding villages of Valsad. Umbergaon is located at about 152 kms from Mumbai, on Maharashtra-Gujarat border.
“While most of them are from Gujarat, some of them are also from other states, like Tamil Nadu. After getting a call from a stranded fisherman, I have written to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar to make necessary arrangements to bring them back, as these fishermen are not allowed to go out of the country and airports are also sealed off,” he added.
In the meanwhile the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has also sought centre’s help to rescue fishermen stranded in Iran.