MARGAO: A pall of gloom has descended on Ambelim village of Brito D'Silva (42), a seafarer who died in captivity after 18 Indians were held hostage by pirates in west Africa for more than a month.
When visited Brito's house at Ambelim on Monday, his father J Francisco D'Silva and other family members were in a state of shock even as villagers were flocking his home on hearing the tragic news.
Brito's father, also a retired seafarer was seating at the main entrance of the house while, Brito's wife Joanita along with mother-in-law were inside the house praying in front of the altar.
"I am not believing the story being told by the officers of the shipping company. We have been told that altogether three seafarers were sick when they were held hostage by Nigerian pirates. Out of three, only my son was not having his food. And as a result, he died. How can it possible that a hungry and sick man cannot have his food?," Francisco questioned.
For the last two days, lot of friends and relatives of Brito had rushed to Ambelim and met family members. It's indeed sad that Brito, who married in September 2019, was the lone bread earner. It is learnt that Brito died between December 22 and 23, 2019 as he was unwell.
Read this: Photography through eyes of the visually impaired
According to sources, on December 23, the officers of the shipping company had communicated with Brito's family members but they did not tell them about the tragedy. The family was informed on Sunday, January 19.
"I am a retired seafarer and I know what is the life and situations arising on the ship. I cannot believe the story being told to us. The correct story will be known from other crew members who are safe. And we are waiting for their version of the incident," Francisco said even as he sought to know why they were not told earlier about his son's death.
A group of seamen have demanded a detailed probe into Brito's death. Besides, Commissioner for NRI Affairs Adv Narendra Sawaikar has also demanded an inquiry into the death of Brito.
Read this: 30 years after exodus, Kashmiri Pandits struggle for justice
According to family members, Brito used to call regularly at home. But, since his abduction and while his ship was in custody of pirates nobody was able to have a word with him. After the release, one of the survivors from Vasco had informed Brito's wife that he was not well at the time of captivity.
Presently, Brito's wife Joanita and parents besides other members of the family are waiting for his body. But at the same time, they were told that Brito's body was buried by pirates at the place where seafarers were held hostage.
Brito's father said that they were still in the dark as concerned shipping company was still not telling them about the body.
Adv Sawaikar, who had demanded inquiry into Brito's death has stated that efforts were on to get the body of the seafarer through diplomatic channels.
The High Commission of India in Abuja on Sunday tweeted that 19 Indians were released while one died in the captivity of the pirates in 'adverse conditions'. At the moment a pall of gloom has descended over Ambelim.
The Goan Seamen Association of India (Goa) has urged the Government of India to deploy Navy ships and provide armed guards to vessels in the above region.
"In recent years there have been too many attacks on vessels in the region Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Middle East, African Waters. There is a scope of more attacks on vessels in this region. Indian is one of the highest numbers of seafarers around the world along with the Philippines and South Americans," said GSAI spokesman Dixon Vaz.
He further said that the Government of India should immediately take cognisance of this incident and deploy Navy warships in this entire region to protect and to guard the vessels. "The life of seafarers is a sacrificial job battling in storms and deprive of his family life," Vaz added.
Read this: Committed to NRC: Dilip Ghosh