A 50-year-old Rameswaram fisherman suffered a head injury and many others lost their fishing nets and other paraphernalia when the Sri Lankan Navy allegedly attacked them with iron balls and bottles and cut their nets when they were fishing on the high seas on Saturday night, The Hindu newspaper reported.
A couple of days after arresting 14 Rameswaram fishermen with their three trawlers on charges of poaching, the Lankan Navy stepped up the offensive and attacked the fishermen after warning them to cut the fishing nets and retreat.
A Varghis (50), who set in a trawler with three others on Saturday morning from the Rameswaram jetty, was fishing about 27 nautical miles north off the jetty when Sri Lankan Navy personnel descended in the area around midnight and started attacking them.
He was trying to cut the fishing net to return fast, when the navy personnel attacked them with iron balls, which are used to drop nets, stones and bottles, Varghis said. While his colleagues managed to duck, he was hit by an iron ball on the forehead and suffered a deep cut.
His colleagues tried to stop the bleeding by applying coffee powder and a piece of dhoti. They could not immediately return to the shore for medical aid as they had to retrieve the net, he said.
On reaching the shores around 8.30 a.m. on Sunday, Varghis was given first aid at the government hospital in Rameswaram and admitted to the Government District headquarters hospital here. His condition was stable, hospital sources said.
A native of Colachel in Kanyakumari district, Varghis, a class IX drop out, had been in fishing in the island for nearly three decades. This was his first encounter with the Navy, he said. Many other fishermen lost expensive fishing nets, he said. After the Sri Lankan Navy threatened them, the fishermen cut the nets with wooden planks to retrieve them later, but the naval personnel cut the nets from the plank ends causing a huge loss, he said.