Disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370 still a mystery

Two years after Malaysian flight MH370 went missing, the mystery around the disappearance of the plane with activist Chandrika Sharma and 238 others on board remains unsolved.

Sharma was a dedicated activist for the rights of small-scale fishers and had worked with and was known by many fisher leaders in South Africa.

Just this week, a few days before the second anniversary of the 8 March 2014 disappearance, an American tourist handed in a suspected piece of washed – up plane debris to Mozambican authorities that may be from the missing plane.

The World Forum of Fisher Peoples said at the time:

“We recall her boundless energy, her sharp intellect, her capacity for research, her relentless advocacy, her warmth, her kindness, her ability to bring people together and her quiet humility. Chandrika led the civil society participation in the negotiations for the International Guidelines with distinction, over a two year period.”

A former colleague from South Africa, states: “Chandrika has provided extraordinary leadership, support and guidance in the process, demonstrating her ability to link the grassroots struggles of fishing communities with international policy processes.”

In a magazine article, writer Paul Molyneaux provided some insight into Chandrika’s journey.

“She grew up in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, not far from India’s capital, new Delhi. The daughter of an Indian naval officer, she did not experience poverty directly but saw plenty and chose a career in service. She earned her masters in social work in 1989 and worked on community forestry projects before beginning the PH.D. programme at the Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum, Kerala in 1993.

In 1995, she and her family moved to Chennai, where Chandrika found a home with the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) and came under the influence of Nalini Nayak, a fisheries activist since 1967, and founding member of the collective.”

By the late nineties, Chandrika was fully involved in ICSF and, at the time of her disappearance, was the executive secretary of the organisation.

Since then, she was involved in numerous advocacy efforts and travelled the world to give voice to the aspirations of small-scale fishers. She has championed women’s rights in fisheries and supported policy processes in Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and many other countries. She can be described as petite and small in stature, but big in spirit and passion.

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