Kochi, Kerala: With shipping services from Lakshadweep to Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore ports coming to
a standstill, thousands of passengers have been stranded in the Union territory and the mainland.
The Lakshadweep Development Corporation operates 24 ships and barges, including some passenger vessels - M V Bharat Seema, M V Kavaratti, M V Minicoy, M V Lakshadweep, M V
Amindivi and M V Arabian Sea. The inter island connectivity has also been affected.
The services have been hit after ship crew unions went on strike demanding at first the termination of the services of the Marine Superintendent for alleged dereliction of duty after
the death of a crew member due to cardiac arrest.
A helsman of M V Bharatseema, Shameem Ali Yosuf, had died of cardiac arrest last week after the ship had anchored in Kochi. His relatives and the crew complained that the Lakshadweep
Development Council (LDC), which has the Bharat Seema and at least 8 other passenger vessels under its aegis, had not taken care of the deceased. They said it had failed to be present when the body was taken for the post mortem.
Meanwhile, stranded passengers went on a dharna in front of the LDC office, demanding subsistence allowance.
Maritime Union of India leader Mohammed Haneef said the ship's operator had the responsbility to take the body of the crew home and carry out related formalities.
Though the Lakshadweep adminsitrator J K Dadoo held several rounds of discussions with the striking crew, a solution failed to materialise.