In picturesque Rameshwaram there is a silent despair of the fisher folk who are torn between the pangs of the stomach and the obnoxiousness of borders. Joseph Rodriguez, a fisherman working with Roosevelt says, “I had left the shore after spending Rs. 8000 on diesel, ration and other supplies. I came back the next day with only Rs. 700 worth of fish.”
S. Natarajan, the district collectorate of Ramanathapuram, shrugged off the issue by saying that they are providing the fishermen ‘alternate job opportunities’. These include sea weed cultivation and ornamental fishing.
“You are journalism students, right? What if tomorrow the government decides to shut all media outlets and ask you to take up a different profession? How would you feel?” asks an indignant Roosevelt.
These fishermen have fishing in their blood. All they know is fishing. As a drunk and old man walks unsteadily into Roosevelt’s humble office, Roosevelt exclaims as he hands out some money to him, “He is hopeless drunk, but a puccka fisherman. Does fishing for more than 50 years!”
Fishermen are captured, tortured, killed, robbed and the government seems to be complacent about it. “Once, a fishermen is captured, the Indian ambassador will go for talk only after 3-4 days”, says Roosevelt. Many fishermen rot in the jail for 6-8 months. “Neither does the central government nor does the Tamil Nadu government come and talk to us and hear our problem. They have only appointed useless association leaders and officers”, says Roosevelt.