Fishermen stranded in Iran too will be brought back in 10-12 days, MoS V Muraleedharan tells The Lede exclusively
Valsala PK, a Keralite domestic worker, who is stuck in Kish Island in Iran from February last week due to COVID-19 lockdown will be brought back within 10 days, the Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said.
In a Facebook live on Monday evening, Muraleedharan said that “In 10 to 12 days, sister Valsala will be rescued from Kish Island. There are some Indian fishermen stranded on the Iranian coast. India is sending a vessel to rescue them. With them, Valsala will also be brought back.”'
Valsala’s plight was exclusively reported by The Lede on Sunday.
The Lede’s report was shared with the MoS and on Monday evening, in 24 hours, the minister responded positively on his Facebook address.
Valsala had gone to Oman to work as a domestic worker. And she was sent to Iran to change her visa. She even had a ticket to return to Oman.
But as COVID-19 was spreading in Iran during the last week of February, Oman canceled its flights to and from Iran. Eventually, Valsala got stuck alone in Kish Island.
Her Omani employer was supporting Valsala during the initial days. However, as the COVID-19 lockdown affected him in Oman, he struggled to support Valsala.
Meanwhile, Thayyil Habeeb, a Lok Kerala Sabha member, introduced the case to me. Food and accommodation were a problem for Valsala. I took help from Saraswathy Manoj and Rekha Prem, social workers in Oman. They raised some money. Additionally, I got Manu Mohan, a worker in Kish Island, to provide support on the ground for Valsala and Mini Mohan, a psychologist in Kerala, to provide mental support for Valsala over the phone.
And a few Indian fishermen who were stranded like Valsala also were sent by Mini to meet Valsala to tell her that she is not alone on the island.
When Valsala was updated that the minister has responded positively to The Lede story, she thanked the minister and The Lede.
Meanwhile, speaking exclusively with The Lede, the minister said that fishermen stranded in Iran will be brought back soon.
“The ship is being sent for the fishermen. And there are practical issues. Many have gone for fishing. They need to get their procedural formalities to be completed so it may take 10-12 days,” the minister told The Lede.
The Lede first reported the woes of Indian fishermen stranded in Iran.
Around 1000 Indian fishermen, some 500 from Tamil Nadu, 300 from Gujarat, and some 200 from Kerala are stranded in Coronavirus-hit Iran, without knowing when they can return home safely since February.
When The Lede reported the fishermen plight, the Indian embassy intervened and provided food for the starving fishermen.
When The Lede conveyed the message from the minster to the fishermen, they thanked the minister and The Lede.