A pal of gloom has descended on the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu after the news reached that a fisherman from this coastal district fell to bullets of American security personnel in Dubai. Three others have sustained bullet injuries. Their fishing boat was reportedly approaching the American ship USNS Rappahannock despite warnings and the security personnel on the US ship opened fire.
The victim, Sekar a 29-year-old poor fisherman had gone to Dubai on contract ten months ago, mainly to settle the debt his family incurred for his sister's wedding. His father too found a job in Brunei to repay the debt. The family is shattered. Mr Sekar's brother in law Mr Baskar says "only a month ago Sekar had spoken to us on phone and told us that his work was so tough there".
In another part of the district, a young wife Rajeswari is praying God to save her husband Muthu Maniraj who suffered bullet injuries on his legs in the same incident. He left for Dubai just a month after their wedding and now she and her mother-in-law Pitchammal are worried about his condition. They plead, "We request both the central and state governments to save all the injured. Please bring them back to Tamil Nadu and give them good treatment".
Reports say two of their colleagues, M Panduvanathan and Muthukannan, both from the same district, are being treated for bullet injuries.
In a statement the US Embassy explains, "The vessel disregarded non-lethal warnings and rapidly approached the US ship. We wish to inform you that the incident is under investigation."
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has sought a "detailed enquiry" into the killing and has asked him to "take up the issue with US and UAE". She also wants the Prime Minister to ensure "due compensation is paid to the families of the deceased and injured fishermen".
It's not clear yet whether the attack took place in Dubai waters or on international waters and whether the Dubai-based company, that employed these men, had taught them on reading warning signs.