Fishermen in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu launched an indefinite strike yesterday demanding that the authorities trace four fishermen, who went missing after their boat sank on November 29 and also protested against repeated arrests by the Sri Lankan navy.
As decided at the meeting of 11 fishermen associations on Tuesday, about 4,000 fishermen struck work after anchoring the 750-odd mechanised boats at the fishing jetty, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The four fishermen, Sudalaimani, Anthonysamy, Ramasamy and Muniasamy were fishing south off the Katchatheevu islet at the early hours of November 29 when their boat sank after water seeped into the vessel.Feared drowned
The fishermen are feared drowned as the search teams, including INS Parundu, the Indian naval air station and the Mandapam station of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) could not trace them so far, P Sesu Raja, leader of a fishermen association said and urged the government to pay compensation to the families.
The fishermen were reluctant to venture into sea as they faced the threat of abduction at the hands of Lankan navy, he said.
The strike was also in protest against repeated attempts by Lankan navy to prevent the fishermen from exercising their traditional rights in the waters in the Palk Bay by arresting them, he said.
Every time the Lankan navy confiscated a boat, families of the boat owner, five fishermen who worked in the boat and those engaged in offloading and transportation lost their livelihood. The Lankan authorities have confiscated 55 fishing boats so far this year, he said.
Last year, the Lankan navy had confiscated more than 80 boats and after they were released the State government helped to bring back the boats, spending about Rs One lakh per boat but 18 boats could not be salvaged, he pointed out.