Muslim fishermen in a coastal village in western Indian Gujarat state have asked the state’s high court for permission to die after being denied their right to livelihoods. It has been almost a month since 600 people from Gosabara in Porbandar district approached Gujarat High Court for its approval because the practice of euthanasia and committing suicide is illegal under India’s law and forbidden in Islam too.

Allarakha Ismail Thimmar, president of Gosabara Muslim Fishermen’s Society, told UCA News that they had not been allowed to dock their tiny fishing boats in the Porbandar dockyard since 2016. He said Hindus in the area face no such curbs and added that it was part of the religion-based discrimination Muslim experience in the state ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  

“When we approach the authorities, they tell us to vacate the village and move out of the district. The 100 or so fishermen and their families have no other choice but to die,” he said. The petition is likely to come up for hearing late this month but authorities appeared unconcerned. 

Gujarat’s Fisheries Minister Jitu Chaudhary couldn’t recall why the Muslim fishermen were agitated. “The matter was brought to my notice but I cannot remember what it was. However, if they come to see me, I will do everything within my powers to help resolve the matter,” he said.

The fishermen from Gosabara are the only ones among 30 coastal villages along the Arabian Sea in the Porbandar district facing difficulties in pursuing their traditional occupation. “Why us? Why do only Muslim fishermen face such a ban,” Thimmar asked. “All permissions and facilities are extended to Hindu fishermen. If this is not discrimination, then what is?”