Protest broke out all over the State on Wednesday against BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s remarks that he had “advised” the Sri Lankan government not to release the boats of fishermen as they were rich and out to destroy the marine resources.
At Rameswaram, over 3,000 fishermen assembled in front of the office of the Fisheries Department and staged a demonstration, raising slogans against Dr. Swamy, burning him in effigy and demanding an apology.
Referring to Dr. Swamy’s remarks made during a debate in a private Tamil channel that the boat owners were rich and it was enough if Sri Lanka released the hapless fishermen, P. Sesu Raja, a fishermen leader, said Dr. Swamy was trying to make it out that the boats were owned by corporates.
All 850 mechanised boats in the fishing jetty here were owned by fishermen, who put out to sea along with others for livelihood. In the case of aged owners, their sons were engaged in fishing. “Most of the fishermen are in debt as they bought the boats, borrowing from moneylenders or pawning their jewels.”
N.J. Bose, another fishermen leader, who was on the panel with Dr. Swamy and senior journalist S. Murari in the debate, demanded that the BJP leadership clarify its position and ask Dr. Swamy to withdraw his remarks. The fishermen, who had been using Vallams (country boats), switched to trawlers under the Indo-Norway project. They were ready to revert to any other mode, provided the government showed them the way, he said.
75 TVK workers held
Our Special Correspondent reports from Cuddalore:
The police arrested 75 workers of the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) at Panruti after they burnt the effigy of Dr. Swamy.
They took out a procession from the Panruti bus stand to the cross-roads.
TVK founder T. Velmurugan questioned the locus standi of Mr Swami in passing such a comment that would affect the livelihood of fishermen.
In Salem, TVK members tried to burn Dr. Swamy’s effigy near the Collectorate. But their attempt was thwarted by the police. In Nagapattinam, activists of the Mukkulathu Pulikal burnt an effigy of Dr. Swamy for his advice to Sri Lanka.
At Rameswaram, over 3,000 fishermen staged a protest, raising slogans against Dr. Swamy, demanding an apology from him