As Rameswaram fishermen continued their protest and stuck to their boycott decision demanding release of boats seized by Sri Lanka, an official said efforts were being made to persuade them to provide vessels for taking pilgrims to Katchatheevu for the annual church festival, the Press Trust of India reported.
The fishermen would be persuaded to give 100 boats for taking the pilgrims for the St.Antony Church festival on February 20 and 21, Co-Ordinator of the festival Sahayaraj told reporters in Rameswaram on Wednesday.
Though India ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka through treaties in 1974 and 1976, pilgrims from the country are allowed to take part in the annual church festival in the islet. Around 4,000 pilgrims from India attended the festival last year.
The fishermen from Rameswaram and several other places have decided to boycott the festival demanding release of the boats seized by Sri Lanka. They have also staged a fast.
Speaking after a co-ordination meeting held here in connection with the festival, he said Sri Lankan refugees would not be allowed to attend the annual event which is attended by both Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.
He said officials from Navy, Coast Guard, Revenue and police departments participated in the coordination meeting chaired by Revenue Divisional Officer Ramapradeepan. He said that ID cards were necessary and laptops and cameras would not be allowed into the islet. (Colombo Gazette)