After languishing in Karachi jail for 10 months for inadvertently straying into the Pakistani sea in March 2015, a tribal youth from Madhya Pradesh is ready to fish in troubled waters once again.
Sunil Uike, 22, was reunited with ailing mother Juggo Bai and elder brother Anil in his native Khuddipur village in Maoist-affected Balaghat district three days ago. But with unemployment and poverty staring at the family, the Class 1 school dropout may have to return to Gujarat and rejoin a fishing company.
“A small piece of agricultural land and my brother’s meager income is all we have and this is not enough to make ends meet…If I don’t get a job soon, I’ll have to return to Gujarat and start fishing,” Uike told HT on Saturday.
Scores of youths from MP, Uttart Pradesh and Bihar reach Gujarat in search of jobs in fishing firms for even a paltry salary of Rs 10,000 per month. In 2015, Uike had left for Okha (in Gujarat) to work for a fishing company owned by Dinesh Maharaj. But on March 29 last year, 12 boat-full of fishermen were captured by the Pakistani Marine Security Agency (PMSA) near Okha and all 59 fishermen aboard, including Uike, were sent to Landi jail in Karachi.
On January 5, Pakistan released 220 fisherman, included 54 out of 59 men.
Uike was rescued after the Balaghat district administration and police helped his family collect valid papers from his employers and family and sent them to the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi, which subsequently took up the matter with their Pakistani counterparts.
“Still five of our colleagues, all from Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, are lodged in the Karachi jail. When we’re being released on January 5, the Pakistani jail authorities asked us to tell our government to release 300-plus Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian jails,” Uike said.
The tribal family’s only hope now is the local administration could extend some help to them. Balaghat district collector Bharat Yadav, who is likely to meet Uike on January 24, said: “Let me meet him first and see what best can be done for him. Since he’s skilled in fishing, we could help him start fish farming through grant of concessional loan.”