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Claxton Bay weeps for fishermen

By Cecily Asson Thursday, August 19 2010

Claxton Bay villagers were moved to tears yesterday when two simple white coffins with the bodies of fishermen Motilal Ramkalawan and Krishna Appoo arrived at the fishing depot and were placed next to each other.

Although the coffins were sealed, the crowd of mourners surged forward begging for a chance to “see” them. Photographs of the fishermen were placed on top of the coffins. Mourners who managed to squeeze through the crowd to stand in front of the coffins gazed at the photographs; others touched the coffins as they wept. The photographs were lifted for those at the back to see. Ramkalawan, 44, of Rig Road, Claxton Bay and Apoo, 55, of La Sophie Trace, Claxton Bay were fishing in the Gulf of Paria, off the Claxton Bay depot, last weekend when they were brutally attacked by pirates. The pirates planassed the fishermen, threw them overboard and stole their boats and engines.

Ramkalawan and Apoo drowned and their bodies were found on Sunday in La Brea and Point Fortin. Fisherman Norris Raj, who was also in the boat “St Peter’s Five”, survived the ordeal last Saturday night.

President of the Claxton Bay Fisherfolk Association Kishore Boodram emotionally called for the resumption of hangings. The fishermen worked for Boodram.

“When you find these men, hang them by the neck and fast. If you hold them today, hang them tomorrow. Let the family get justice. My workers begging overboard, saying throw a cooler cover, give we something, and then they (the pirates) saying bring the gun. Two die and I go take that easy?”

As he led fishermen to the edge of the jetty to place four wreaths in the water, Boodram said he often paid his men with money but yesterday he had to “pay them with flowers.” Raj said the deaths were hard for him “as it could have been three of us instead.”

Before the bodies arrived at the depot, separate funeral services were held for the fishermen at their family homes. Pundit Ganpat Maharaj officiated at the funeral for Ramkalawan while Pundit Ravinath Maharaj conducted the service for Appoo.

“Is this the way he had to leave us and go? That morning he left for work, he went to make an honest day’s work. There he met the monsters, the pirates who created havoc in the lives of these men,” said Maharaj.

Environmentalists Dr Peter Vine, Wayne Kublalsingh and Gary Aboud attended the funerals. Kublalsingh said Ramkalawan and Appoo “were part of the struggle in Claxton Bay to save the environment.”

Investigations are continuing into the attacks against 15 fishermen by pirates last weekend.

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