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Fishermen return

Twenty-one migrant fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who were stranded in Iran, reached the Chennai International airport in the early hours of Saturday after a one-month ordeal.

The group of fishermen, who reached the Chennai International airport around 3 a.m. from Doha by a Qatar Airways flight, belong to Kanniyakumari, Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli districts.

One of the fishermen, P. Kumar of Puthenthurai in Kanniyakumari district, said: “Officials of the External Affairs Ministry, the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the Commissionerate of Rehabilitation & Welfare of Non-resident Tamils took effective steps to ensure our repatriation and we convey our heartfelt thanks to all.”

He also reiterated his demand that the State Government lend a helping hand by providing financial assistance to those repatriated.

According to representatives of the National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM), the fishermen were cheated by various agencies which took Rs. 60,000 from each one of them. The migrants were taken to Dubai on a tourist visa on December 7, 2017, and from there to Iran.

In Iran, they were not given proper salary till June 2018. Whenever they received the salary, the sponsors and the agents took a heavy cut.

The deductions were made under various heads: boat repair, torn net, oil charges, accommodation, food, etc.

When the migrants pressed for their rightful due, the sponsors threw them out of their residence. The intervention of the NDWM/Migrant Forum and representations to the Union and State governments helped the fishermen finally get back to India.

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