Rameshwaram fishing community is haunted by the death of a 21-year-old boy

Bridjo was killed last week when the Sri Lankan navy allegedly fired at his fishing group, off the Tamil Nadu coast.

 |  3-minute read |   16-03-2017
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Just like the thousands of fishermen who go to sea with hundreds of dreams, young Bridjo too ventured out to the sea with the burden of taking care of a family of nine.

His dream of bringing a thatched roof over his house made him work over time and before his last trip to the sea, he had promised his mother he would bring the necessary cash to get a proper roof.

The dreams of the 21-year-old did come true - there is a roof over his house now, but he is no longer there to see it. March 9, 2017, the day he went to sea after promising his mother, was his last trip. The boy with a bullet wound in his throat lost his life.

He was killed last week when the Sri Lankan navy allegedly fired at his fishing group, injuring three others, between Dhanushkodi and Katchatheevu off the Tamil Nadu coast. The family and other fishermen are protesting over the incident, which is not the first such case.

"This family struggled to make ends meet, and seeing this Bridjo decided to go to the sea to ensure everyone remained happy. He went for the last catch promising to make money for a proper roof over the house, and now he has gone forever," said Sister Marina, Bridjo’s aunt.

Having secured more than 450 marks in the Class 10 Board exam, Bridjo, the fourth among the children of seven, wanted to ensure that his elder brother could continue studies and three of his younger siblings could also go to school.

Now the house has a new roof that the family put up taking funds from well wishers to ensure that at least Bridjo’s mortal remains can be kept in his dream home before his final journey.

fishing-embed_031617120953.jpg The story of Bridjo’s family is something that each fishing family in Rameshwaram relates to.

Bridjo’s mother Augusta said: "He is my fourth son and he was keen to sustain the family. After the Boards, he volunteered to go to the sea and was educating his elder brother. We want the Sri Lankan navy officer to be arrested. I don't want another mother to lose her child like I did."

Bridjo is not the first person to have been attacked this way in the family. His elder brother Lespo moved to Kerala for fishing after being attacked by Sri Lankan Navy and is still undergoing treatment for the injuries sustained.

"We were in Indian territory when their naval officers hit our boat, entered it and attacked the five fishermen on it. My shoulder got dislocated. I can’t do much work with my hand and that is why I moved to Kerala; even Bridjo was planning to come to Kerala with me, but he was waiting to complete the roof work," said Lespo.

One of the biggest dreams that Bridjo had was to educate his elder brother and make him an engineer. Kaesiyan, Bridjo's other brother, said, "My brother wanted to educate me and he never wanted me to go fishing but now I am sitting here to protest and demand that these fishermen get justice. I want our livelihood to be safe and to continue earning it without fear of being killed.  We want the 138 boats in Sri Lankan custody to be released and we want Katchatheevu."

The story of Bridjo’s family is something that each fishing family in Rameshwaram relates to. Every face that was sitting in the protest reflected a story of attack and humiliation.

Also read: Only India can pull Sri Lanka out of crisis


Akshaya Nath Akshaya Nath @akshayanath

The writer is a reporter with India Today TV.

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