Fishermen protest continuing arrests by Lankan navy

Seek Centre’s intervention

The fishermen of Rameswaram staged a demonstration here on Friday, protesting against the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of their boats by Sri Lankan navy and urging the authorities to secure their traditional fishing rights in the Palk Bay.

Led by fishermen leader P. Sesu Raja, members of all mechanised boats fishermen associations, assembled in front of the bus stand and raised slogans against the Lankan navy for intimidating the Indian fishermen when they ventured into sea.

Addressing the agitators, Mr. Sesu Raja urged the Centre to prevail upon the Lankan government to secure the release of boats and fishermen arrested after the third round of talks with their Lankan counterparts in Chennai on March 24.

10apr_rmdwscns1_11_2370490fHe said when the Indian fishermen were expecting a favourable response from Lankan Tamil fishermen for reaching an agreement for peaceful fishing, there were disturbing reports of Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena ordering the arrest of Indian fishermen who crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Lankan navy again started intimidating the Indian fishermen, who ventured into the Palk Bay for fishing, he said, and urged the Centre to protect their livelihood by securing their traditional right to fish in the Palk Bay.

Fearing the Lankan navy, most fishermen from Rameswaram refrained from venturing into the sea for fishing, he said.

They were left with just three more fishing days before the 45-day ban on fishing started on April 14 but the fishermen were not willing to take the risk, he said.

Fishermen leaders who took part in the agitation wanted the State and Central governments to help the fishermen of the two countries to reach an agreement for peaceful fishing in the Palk Bay, in the new season starting in June.

Mr. Sesu Raja, who led the team which brought back 33 of the 86 boats detained in Sri Lanka and ordered to be released by Mr. Sirisena, said 28 more boats would be brought back in the second salvage operation to commence next week.

The remaining boats either drowned or suffered extensive damage, he said, and urged the governments to pay compensation to the owners.

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