Nagapattinam fishermen protest against Lankan navy

Indian-fishermenFishermen of Nambiyar Nagar in the Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu began an indefinite strike, seeking the intervention of State and Central governments to secure the release of 15 fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy, The Hindu newspaper reported.

They were arrested by the navy on Monday night when they were fishing off Kodiakarai between India and Sri Lanka. Two boats had also been seized by the navy.

As many as 220 boats, including 55 mechanised boats belonging to Nambiyar Nagar, remained anchored at the jetty due to the strike.

S. Chithiravel of Grama Meenava Panchayat, Nambiyar Nagar, claimed that there was no ground for the Sri Lankan Navy to arrest the innocent fishermen, as they were confined only to Indian waters.

The strike would continue till the release of fishermen from Sri Lankan jail. It had also been decided to meet the Union Minister of State for Surface Transport Pon. Radhakrishnan and Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayapal to impress upon the plight of arrested fishermen and their families.

Meanwhile The Hindu also reported that four fishermen from Rameswaram had a miraculous escape when their boat capsized on the high seas in the wee hours of Tuesday, and they alleged that the Lankan navy used water scooters to chase them away and damaged their nets and wooden planks.

The fishermen were fishing in the Palk Strait, about 30 nautical miles off Rameswaram, around 1 a.m., when the Lankan navy allegedly chased them away. As they tried to escape from getting arrested, the boat got caught in the gusty winds and capsized, they said.

On sighting the sinking boat, fishermen in another boat came to their rescue and the fishermen in distress jumped into it and escaped, they said. Fishing had become highly risky and tough as the Lankan navy not only chased them away but cut their nets and ropes, G. Irudhayam, a fisherman from Thangachimadam, said.

Sometimes in a bid to escape, the fishermen themselves would cut the nets and return to the Indian waters, he said, adding after identifying the spots with Global Positioning System (GPS) some fishermen would retrieve the nets while others would suffer loss.

Fishermen leader P. Sesu Raja said the Sri Lankan navy had now resorted to using water scooters for easy manoeuvring and chasing away fishermen.

At least three naval personnel travelled in the scooter and they indiscriminately cut the nets, he added.