THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Latin Catholic Church took out a peaceful march by fishermen and their families to the Raj Bhavan on Monday urging the government to gear up the rescue missions in the wake of cyclone Ockhi and ensure that all the missing fishermen were found. Archbishop M. Soosa Pakiyam, who is also president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, alleged that there was sheer official apathy in giving out early warning about the cyclone that led to unprecedented human loss.
Addressing the march, he asked the government to increase the relief amount and demanded the formation of a separate central ministry for fisheries. The cyclone should be declared as a national disaster, he said and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the affected areas. The march started from St Joseph's Cathedral at Palayam around 12 p.m. and the participants carried coffins as a symbolic protest. The metropolitan archbishop of Thiruvalla Thomas Mar Koorilos also joined the protest.
Hundreds of fishermen from fishing hamlets like Adimalathura, Vizhinjam and Poonthura took part in the protest and carried the photographs of the victims. The Church volunteers had to calm down the agitated protestors many times. The city witnessed traffic jams and diversions were put in place during the protest. A Church delegation will meet Governor P. Sathasivam on Tuesday. Earlier, Latin Catholic Vicar-General Eugene Pereira had warned that the fishermen will march with the bodies of cyclone victims to force the government to continue the rescue efforts till the last victim was found.