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Declare Mumbai attacks fishermen dead, say families

Seven years since a deadly attack on Mumbai in which three Indian fishermen went missing when Islamist gunmen hijacked their boat, the families of the three have asked the government to declare the men dead and provide compensation.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2015 18:07 IST
Heavily-armed fighters hijacked the MV Kuber three days before they attacked two upscale hotels, a Jewish centre and a railway station in India’s financial hub on November 26, 2008, killing 166 people.
Heavily-armed fighters hijacked the MV Kuber three days before they attacked two upscale hotels, a Jewish centre and a railway station in India’s financial hub on November 26, 2008, killing 166 people.(Representative photo)

Seven years since a deadly attack on Mumbai in which three Indian fishermen went missing when Islamist gunmen hijacked their boat, the families of the three have asked the government to declare the men dead and provide compensation.

Heavily-armed fighters hijacked the MV Kuber three days before they attacked two upscale hotels, a Jewish centre and a railway station in India’s financial hub on November 26, 2008, killing 166 people.

The body of captain Amarsinh Solanki was found, but those of the four crew, all from the western state of Gujarat, were never located.

Their relatives have still not been able to claim the government compensation of a million rupees (around $15,000) for the loss of their loved-ones.

Under Indian law, a person whose body has not been found can only be declared dead once they have been missing for over seven years.

On Thursday around a dozen relatives of three of the four missing crew -- Natwar Rathod, Mukesh Rathod, who are not related, and Balvant Tandel -- approached authorities in Gujarat to ask for their death certificates.

“The last seven years have been very difficult for me as I was left alone to take care of two kids,” said Natwar Rathod’s wife Dharmishta.

“My husband was the only bread winner in the family,” she told AFP.

Rathod was accompanied by her two children and social worker Kanu Sukhadiya, who has been helping the families of three of the missing to fight for their rights.

The family of the fourth, Ramesh Solanki, has not been traced.

“Once these families get death certificates of the missing fishermen, only then they can make a claim for the ten million rupees compensation declared by the central government for the victims of terror attack,” Sukhadiya told AFP.

“We have been supporting these families with food and other basic supplies since last seven years, but they have not received any help from the state or central government.”

Remya Mohan, a local official in the southern Gujarat city of Navsari, said the relevant files had been sent to the central government for a decision.

It took authorities three days to regain full control of the city after the attacks, which India blames on Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In Mumbai on Thursday, politicians and bereaved relatives laid flowers and wreaths to remember those killed in the siege, memories of which were stirred by the horrific November 13 attacks in Paris.

str/cc/eb