Rights in Deep Water

Dr Suresh Mathew Dr Suresh Mathew
05 Dec 2022
The government’s promises on the fishers’ demands remain merely on paper. In the face of utter apathy of the authorities, the victims stare at a bleak and uncertain future.

The world witnessed one of the worst episodes of human rights violation when attacks were unleashed on hundreds of fisherfolk at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram in the southern tip of Kerala; and it happened barely two weeks before the Human Rights Day on December 10. 

The epicentre of violence was where the Adani Port is coming up, threatening the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishers. The port is showcased as a harbinger of development. But studies, reports, research and independent analysis by experts do not support this claim. They point to the perils to the coast and its sweeping adverse impact on the life of those who solely depend on it. The argument on development is a story mired in controversies.

Shrinking coastline is no more a tale told by vested interests. It has become a reality, sounding a death knell for the fishers whose life solely depends on the vast coast and the sea. In several places in and around the affected areas, as reports say, the coast has been eroded drastically, reducing it to a shadow of what it used to be. Those displaced due to the project are living in pigeonhole-like accommodation in cement godowns. Their rehabilitation is nowhere in sight. The government’s promises on the fishers’ demands remain merely on paper. In the face of utter apathy of the authorities, the victims stare at a bleak and uncertain future.
 
No words are enough to condemn the brashness of the government and some political parties branding the sons of the sea as terrorists and anti-nationals. Those who were praised as the saviours and angels, for their rescue operation in the food-hit regions of the State, have overnight become anti-nationals and their movement for survival is termed as treason and sedition. 

Equally deplorable is the attempt to give a communal colour to their struggle for survival. It is unacceptable to look at the children of sea through the prism of caste, creed or religion. The government has stooped to unfathomable depth by registering cases against the Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram and others who were not even present at the site where violence erupted last week. According to reports, violence was unleashed on people who went to the police station seeking release of those arrested for no rhyme or reason. 

The easiest way to tarnish and tackle any rights movement is to smear it with ‘extremist’ or ‘anti-national’ tag; an equally malicious ploy is to brand it as a ‘conspiracy’ in connivance with those plotting against the country. Both the Central and the Kerala state government seem to be comrades-in-arms in this regard. We saw this in the Bhima-Koregaon incident in which over a dozen rights activists, academicians and intellectuals were put behind bars under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. 

The way Fr. Stan Swamy, the messiah of Tribals, was jailed branding him as a Maoist and anti-national, leading to his death in custody, is still fresh in our minds. The corporate-leaning governments did the same with the farmers’ agitation; and they do it with every human rights movement, tagging each one with ‘anti-nationalism’. Unfortunately, both the Left and Right governments and political parties are lending a shoulder to each other in grabbing the ‘share of the loaves that fall from the corporate tables.’   

Vizhinjam Human Rights Day Adani Port fishers livelihood Thiruvananthapuram Fr. Stan Swamy Tribals human rights movement Issue 50 2022 Indian Currents Vizhinjam Port Protest

Recent Posts

The furore surrounding NEET has once again brought the need for systemic reforms in education to the fore.
apicture Jaswant Kaur
24 Jun 2024
The RSS' sudden snipe against immoral politics and concern for issues it had hitherto left untouched can be perceived from many angles.
apicture Ram Puniyani
24 Jun 2024
Mr Modi and Mr Bhagwat are both vicious personalities with a cussed arrogance
apicture John Dayal
24 Jun 2024
The Modi-led BJP has aimed for a "Congress-mukt Bharat" since 2014, weakening democracy.
apicture Jacob Peenikaparambil
24 Jun 2024
Modi has gone on record saying that he has invited Pope Francis to India!
apicture Cedric Prakash
24 Jun 2024
None of us have yet emerged from the shock of one of the most devastating fire accidents in Kuwait, which killed 50 migrant workers, including 46 Indians, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
apicture Dr Arnald Mahesh SDB
24 Jun 2024
Uttarakhand's forest fires have resulted in the loss of not only human lives but also a vast forest area.
apicture Vidya Bhushan Rawat
24 Jun 2024
Prime Minister Modi tends to dismiss climate change, attributing the challenges to altered human behaviour.
apicture Peter Fernandes, SFX
24 Jun 2024
I believe, and this is not a political article, that these elections have shown us qualities of true leadership.
apicture Robert Clements
24 Jun 2024
Many years ago, Mahatma Gandhi spoke about seven crimes. One of them is "Politics without principle."
apicture M L Satyan
17 Jun 2024