Fisherman killed by Pak navy hit by bullets while fixing diesel leak

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Shridhar Chamre, 32, the fisherman who was killed when Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency fired at a boat in waters off the coast of Gujarat on Saturday, received fatal bullet injuries as he was trying to fix a diesel leak that was preventing their trawler from picking up speed as Pakistani boats chased them, his father in law said. Chamre had earlier taken cover in a box when the firing began.

Namdev Meher, Chamre’s father-in-law who was also on the boat, said they speeded up fearing they will be taken as prisoners but soon realised the trawler’s diesel nozzle had broken. He added Chamre, who was hiding inside an empty fish box to escape the firing, was forced to come out to fix the leak as the boat was not picking speed. “Shridhar and I crawled to the engine room…diesel was leaking and hence the speed was reduced. We had no spare nozzle but were using an empty plastic bottle to plug the leak. Somehow the leak stopped temporarily and just then Dilip (the other fisherman) was wounded…”

Meher said that two speedboats were chasing them. He added they started to cry and left to God their fate but Dilip continued to steer the boat and after 40 minutes or so, the speedboats gave up the chase. “Then I saw Shridhar lying motionless and I thought he may have become unconscious due to the shock…soon blood started to ooze from his nose and I was shocked to find bullet wounds on his back…a bullet also was visible near the chest and soon I realised that Shridhar was no more.”

Meher said they somehow reached the Okha coast around 3am on Sunday. “I also heard that the Pakistan Navy seized a boat from Porbander and abducted six labourers on board…”

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Meher said they along with six labourers left Vanakbarain in Diu on October 26 for a 10-day fishing trip. He added on Saturday, Chamre called his wife Jyoti and also spoke to his daughters. “At around 4pm, we were retrieving nets and finding the catch for the day when suddenly a speed boat came towards us at full speed… and started to fire. At first, we thought firecrackers were being burst due to Diwali but soon we saw a bullet piercing the 200-litre water drum and then we realised that Pakistan Navy personnel were firing at us.” Meher said their trawler was hit with a few bullets.

Chamre was cremated at his native Vadrai in Maharashtra’s Palgarh district on Tuesday after Meher brought the fisherman’s body from Gujarat.

Maharashtra Machimaar Kriti Samiti vice president Manendra Arekar, who attended the funeral, said Chamre’s father, Ramesh, lit the pyre in presence of his widow, Jyoti, who fainted.

Rajendra Gavit, the Member of Parliament from Palghar, gave a 50,000 cheque as immediate relief to Chamre’s family. He said they will take up the issue of maximum compensation with the state as well as central governments. “I will also raise the issue during the winter session of Parliament…for a permanent solution to stop such firing on Indian fishermen at high seas… the fishermen were inside the Indian territorial waters..” He said authorities have taken the GPS device from the boat to find their exact location at the time of the firing.

India on Monday summoned a senior Pakistani diplomat to protest the Chamre’s killing.

India and Pakistan detain hundreds of fishermen each year on charges of violating the maritime boundary. Their vessels are also often seized.

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