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Saturday 17 November 2018
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Tears for father, son held by Spanish-speaking men

Kidnapped on the high seas

DISTRAUGHT: Hermatie Sankar cries for her husband-to-be Awardnath Hajarie and their son Nicholas who were captured by Spanigh-speaking men in a boat on Thursday.
DISTRAUGHT: Hermatie Sankar cries for her husband-to-be Awardnath Hajarie and their son Nicholas who were captured by Spanigh-speaking men in a boat on Thursday.

A bride-to-be wept on the Cedros beach yesterday as she looked out to sea.

The man who she is to marry next month, their son and another man were taken at sea by Spanish-speaking men on Thursday morning and up to yesterday there was no word about their whereabouts.

Hermatie Sankar, 50, sobbed, “I have been waiting for 26 years to marry him, now I feel fate is against me. I feel it will not happen.”

Sankar’s wedding is scheduled for May 16 and she and her boyfriend, fisherman 52-year-old Awardnath Hajarie live at Fullerton Village, Cedros.

CAPTURED: Awardnath Hajarie

Video footage captured by a man on a Trinmar oil rig near the Soldado rock, showed a pirogue with four men pull alongside the boat with Hajarie, his 26-year-old son Nicholas and another fisherman, 35-year-old Shami Seepersad.

CAPTURED: Nicholas Hajarie

With guns pointing at them, the Spanish-speaking men forced the three onto their pirogue and sped away. The Soldado rock is about seven miles from the coast of the Venezuelan mainland.

When Newsday went to Fullerton Village yesterday, fishermen on the beach complained that too often in the past, Venezuelan men, who more than likely are representatives of the Guardia Nacional, would kidnap them on the high seas and take them to Venezuela. They will then have the captives telephone their families and demand a ransom in US dollars.

Sankar said when she was told about the incident, she almost collapsed. “I was not expecting to get a telephone call that my son and his father were kidnapped. I am afraid I will not see them again because of what has happened in the past with other fishermen.”

The distraught woman said she has not sat down to have a meal since and told Newsday that she and Hajarie were to go to San Fernando next week to choose her wedding dress. Invitations to guests have already gone out and food has already been bought.

Sankar and Harjarie have been living together for the past 26 years and they decided that she would get married on the day of her 51st birthday.

Fishermen on the beach said, for the past 15 years fishermen have been taken against their will and ransom demanded by Spanish-speaking men. If the ransom is not paid on time, the fishermen said, those held are charged with entering Venezuela illegally and, in some cases, jailed.

Last Saturday, 38-year-old Azaha Mohammed was held and released after paying US$1,500. Mohammed said he was fishing near Soldado rock when he was forced onto a pirogue by Spanish-speaking men.

I WAS HELD TOO: Fisherman Azaha Mohammed relates his encounter of being captured by Spanish-speaking men while fishing on Saturday last.

“I was allowed to make a phone call and I was able to get US$1,500 to the men who held me captive and I was released. This has been happening years now and fishermen are afraid. If you don’t have the money, they keep you.” Fisherman Jerry Paradath said that quite often their families would make reports to Cedros police but the situation remains the same.

“We always hear that there is no proof of what is happening, but now you have a video circulating and showing you the proof of what fishermen have been dealing with for years.”

 

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