Representatives of fishermen in Kanyakumari and families of missing fishermen have urged the Central team, deputed by the Union Home Ministry to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Ockhi, to declare 237 missing fishermen as ‘dead’ if they fail to return by December 31. This will enable the fishermen’s families to claim compensation and relief. After their hopes of seeing the breadwinners during Christmas were dashed, the families are now conducting Holy Mass in memory of the missing fishermen as there was no information on them since the devastating cyclone hit on November 30.Of the 237 missing fishermen feared dead, 170 are from eight fishing villages of Kanyakumari, while 67 are from other districts and states. “Most of these fishermen could have been rescued if the Indian Coast Guard and Navy commenced the rescue operation immediately after the cyclone passed the district on November 30. But our distress call was ignored,” alleges Fr Churchill, general secretary of South Asian Fishermen Fraternity, who submitted a memorandum to the centre’s team on Thursday.“There is a very remote chance of survival of the missing fishermen. Hence they should be declared dead on December 31 as it will enable the families to get the compensation of Rs 20 lakh and a government job,” he said. He demanded that the Central team take steps to declare Kanyakumari district as a disaster-affected district.State Relief Commissioner K Satyagopal said the government hoping that some more fishermen would return to the shore before New Year.

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Declare missing fishermen as dead: Fr Churchill