The fate of six fishermen lies with the efforts of their families to raise US$200,000 by Friday or else their kidnappers said they will begin cutting off their victims’ limbs.
Jagdesh Jude Jaikaran, 16, Linton Manohar, 36, Brandon Arjoon, 28, brothers Jason O’Brien 38 and Jerry O’Brien 36, all of Morne Diablo, Penal and Ricky Rambharose 35, who lives in a neighbouring community, were reported to have been kidnapped and taken to Venezuela.
According to reports, the men left the Morne Diablo Fishing Facility aboard a pirogue around 4 pm on Sunday to fish.
However, they were held up by armed men at sea and taken to Venezuela. They were expected to return home with their catch on Monday morning.
Instead, their families learned of the kidnapping when one of the men contacted Manohar’s brother.
Hours later, Manohar’s brother received the frightening voice note and a picture of five of the fishermen sitting on the floor with masked men pointing firearms at them.
At the beginning of the message, voiced by Manohar, a person in the background says: “Talk fast and talk clear”. The accent sounded Trinidadian and lead relatives to question whether they were in fact in Venezuela.
The message said: “Woi! Organise and see if allyuh could make up the money by tomorrow nah boy. Tell Jude mother them and Brandon mother them to organize nah boy. Get US$200,000 by Friday and sell all the vehicles nah boy and sell the house. Tell AV sell the house nah boy.” At this time, the person in the background could be heard telling Manohar what the say.
Manohar continued: “Make up the money nah, the man them serious. By tomorrow, ah want to know the answer. Because if by tomorrow they don’t know, they are cutting off my hand and one of Jerry hand and all them fellas hands. We calling you back tomorrow and let Reshan know and all. Try to organise and see who can organise and make up the money nah. Friday is the deadline for the US$200,000. Ah calling you early in the morning. Please!”
Arjoon’s father, Rodney Arjoon, said that just Saturday he was at his son’s home. Rodney said Arjoon was not at home so he told his grandmother to warn him against going to sea for the rest of the month because of the current political unrest in Venezuela. He said his family was trying to get some money, but could not raise the amount of money the kidnappers have demanded. But as a Christian, Rodney said, he was not fearful and was praying to God for their safe return.
“To be honest, I didn’t bring fear into my mind because as a believer in God, you cannot believe in God and not trust in him. Bottom line, I trust in God,” Rodney said.
He said the other fishermen’s relatives had already begun to sell off assets and were talking with other relatives abroad in hopes of raising the ransom.
Jaikaran’s mother, Mala Jairkaran, said she was hoping and praying that her son would return safely. Once he returned, she said there will be no going back to sea, although it was his passion. But weighing heavily on the minds of the families was that a fisherman by the name Barry Boban went missing at sea last year and never returned. They fear that he was also kidnapped. They were also worried that piracy and kidnappings were becoming the norm, which threatens the lives of local fishermen.
At the Morne Diablo Fishing Facility yesterday, the yard was filled with pirogues that would usually be at sea. Jaikaran’s brother Kirt Jaikaran said that it was already tough for fishermen with NP’s discontinuance of regular gas at the pumps. Now their lives were at risk and it posed an end to their livelihood.
The kidnappings came two weeks after cousins Kendall Singh, 23 and Kenrick Morgan, 17, of Moruga, were kidnapped at sea and taken to Venezuela and an initial ransom of US$40,000 was demanded for their release.