Fishing activities came to a grinding halt in Rameshwaram yesterday as more than 4,000 fishermen launched an indefinite strike, demanding the release of the 77 fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan prisons along with more than 100 boats, impounded by the Sri Lankan authorities.
After the leaders of 11 mechanised fishermen associations discussed the threat posed to their livelihood in the wake of continued arrest by the Sri Lankan navy and adopted resolutions to strike work on Tuesday, the fishermen anchored about 850 trawlers at the fishing jetty and did not venture into the sea.
The strike would badly affect the livelihood of the community on the island as at least 10 families depend on a trawler to eke out their living. “We have no option but to draw the attention of the authorities to put an end to the arrests and ensure peaceful livelihood,” P. Sesu Raja, leader of a fishermen’s association, said.
He said the fishermen and family members of the arrested fishermen would stage a demonstration in front of the bus stand on July 26, pressing their demand and launch an indefinite fast on July 28 after paying homage to the former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on the occasion of his first death anniversary on July 27, he said.
The leaders were holding talks with their counterparts in the coastal districts of Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, and Tiruvarur to mobilise their support for strike, he said. A majority of workers started leaving for Kerala where fishing begins on August 1 after the end of the 45-day ban period, he added.