A day after launching an indefinite strike, more than 300 fishermen, including leaders of various fishermen associations staged a protest demonstration in Tamil Nadu after entering to the sea, demanding peaceful solution to their vexatious issue and release of fishermen, arrested by the Sri Lankan navy and boats confiscated by it, The Hindu newspaper reported.
Aggrieved that there was stalemate after they participated in the ‘internal stakeholders’ meeting chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Delhi on July 29, the fishermen staged the demonstration, holding black flags entering into the sea near the fishing jetty in Rameswaram.
The agitation was to draw the attention of the Centre and State Governments to the plight of fishermen, who faced threat to their livelihood, P. Sesu Raja, leader of a fishermen association, said. The Lankan navy continued to harass and arrest them and confiscated their boats whenever they ventured into the sea for fishing in the Palk Bay, he said.
“The Governments should secure our traditional fishing rights in the Palk Bay or retrieve Katchatheevu islet and ensure peaceful livelihood,” he said.
“It was unfortunate that both the State and Central governments continued to ignore the demand for compensation to the owners of 18 boats, which were impounded by the Lankan authorities last year and could not be salvaged after they suffered extensive damage due to months of neglect and disuse, he said.
“No attempt was also being taken to secure the release of 104 mechanised and country boats presently in the custody of Sri Lanka, he said. As there were no signs of the Centre arranging talks with their counterparts in Sri Lanka, they would launch an indefinite fast from September 12 in front of the Rameswaram bus stand, he added.