Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Madangir locals seek AAP’s help to search for missing kin
The ‘missing’ boat was reportedly ferrying emigrants, most likely through the straits between Indonesia and Australia where the seas are rough and storms commonUpdated: Apr 15, 2019 12:44 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chiku would have turned two years of age on April 7 and would have spent his birthday at home, speculates Selvi Shekhar, his maternal grandmother, on what would have been.
Shekhar’s daughter, Shivani (25), her son-in-law Prem Ravi (31), a tailor, and Chiku were on board a fishing boat that had left from Kerala’s Munambam harbour for New Zealand on January 12. The boat, which had several undocumented immigrants from Delhi, mysteriously disappeared soon after leaving the harbour and has not been traced till date.
“We never heard from them or of them (those on the boat) again after they called us for the last time from Kerala on the day they were about to depart (January 12). They never mentioned clearly which country they were leaving for,” said Shekhar, a resident of South Delhi’s Madangir area.
The boat was reportedly ferrying emigrants, most likely through the straits between Indonesia and Australia where the seas are rough and storms common. In late January, the police estimated that around 50 people from Madangir were on that boat.
With Delhi slated to go to polls on May 12, and with electioneering picking up pace, several families from Madangir, including Shekhar, have approached the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for help, prompting senior party leader Gopal Rai to write to the Delhi Police commissioner and the Union ministry of external affairs urging them to help these families.
Rai confirmed the development and said he wrote two letters on Thursday and Friday.
“Most of these families are poor and they cannot afford to go to Kerala to enquire about their relatives. They need the help of Delhi Police. But they also do not understand that Delhi Police does not come under the elected government in the city,” Rai said.
Most Madangir residents, spotted in the AAP office in Central Delhi on Thursday, said they had “assumed” that their relatives had left for “Australia” for there was one such “trend”.
“In the past 10 years, many from Madangir have migrated to Australia in a similar fashion with the help of local touts. This, however, was the first emigration to New Zealand as far as the locals had heard of,” Binny Mathews, a Madangir resident who had escorted the other families to the AAP office, said.
The reasons for undertaking the perilous journey are always the same — better jobs, more money and a better life. Shivani and Ravi were no exception, Shekhar and the others said, adding that a tout had instructed them to leave behind all their identity documents and to “mislead” authorities by identifying themselves as Sri Lankans “in the event they were caught”.
Shekhar and the other Madangir residents told Hindustan Times that they have not received any update on the case from the local police.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi) Vijay Kumar said, “The case is registered in Kerala and the police there have prepared a list of over 200 persons, including many from Madangir, who could be on the boat or have acted as touts in the illegal emigration. We have sent a letter to Kerala Police for updates. They said they will respond by Tuesday. If the response is not found to be satisfactory, we will send a two-member team to Kerala with a local representative from the area.
First Published: Apr 15, 2019 12:44 IST