THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lifeguards often risk their lives while trying to save others from the jaws of death in the seas. Johnson Gabriel, a lifeguard at Shanghumugham beach here, sacrificed his life trying to save a young woman who allegedly jumped into the sea recently. His body was recovered from Valiyathura beach a week later.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh and a government job to Shalini, wife of Johnson. However, his colleagues want the government to take steps to protect lifeguards.
Johnson, father of two, was the only source of income for his poor family. He became a lifeguard 17 years ago and had recently joined Shanghumugham beach after a stint at Kovalam.
The lifeguards are not provided security or insurance. “Some lifeguards have been working for some 34 years without any special benefits while our compatriots in the neighbouring states are provided insurance,” said Rojin, a lifeguard.
They are not given any safety equipment like life jackets or rescue boats in spite of several requests made to the successive governments. They are paid a paltry sum of Rs. 175 a day and the only equipment they have is a lifebuoy.
Johnson and two other lifeguards had jumped into the sea to save a young woman who allegedly attempted suicide. “It was high tide and Johnson possibly hit his head against the broken stairs, lost consciousness and was washed out to the sea. His body was recovered at Valiyathura beach a week later,” said Rojin.
Rojin and his friends hope the tourism department will come to their aid in the wake of this incident....