With reporting from Chantelle D’mello
Two weeks after an Indian fisherman from Bahrain was killed when his boat strayed into Qatar’s waters, his family has received his body and is preparing for it to be cremated.
But questions remain about the cause of the man’s death.
Karthikeyan Thangaraj, 32, hailed from the Tamil Nadu region of India. He was killed when his boat crashed into a Qatari Coast Guard patrol boat, P.S Sashi Kumar, the Indian Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, previously told Doha News.
However, Indian media reports continue to assert that Thangaraj had been shot and killed by Qatar’s Coast Guard after accidentally straying across borders while out fishing.
Three other fishermen onboard with the deceased were arrested on Sept. 21 and remain in custody in Qatar. Government officials in India have made repeated requests for their release.
According to a Times of India report published today, the deceased’s father received Thangaraj’s body on Saturday:
“(He) said that such a situation should never happen to any other fishermen families and wanted the state government to take action in releasing the other fishermen from the Qatar prison. The other three fishermen who are languishing in jail are Ayyapan, Samayamuthu and Raju.
The fishermen were working in Bahrain and during the course of fishing they accidentally strayed into Qatari waters resulting in the coast guard officials shoot at them.”
However, when contacted by Doha News today, the Indian embassy representative insisted that Thangaraj died from the impact of the boat accident.
“We are a diplomatic mission. We do not investigate these matters on our own, nor do we carry out post mortems. This is the forensic report that we’ve received from the Qatari government, and that is what we’re going by.”
Kumar also said that he had seen the body of the deceased, and, to his knowledge, had observed no evidence of a gunshot. “It was internal injuries, which do not present themselves on the body.”
Thangaraj is survived by his wife and children, who recently received Rs 5 lakh (US$8,100) from a former Tamil Nadu government official’s relief fund.