3 fishermen were rounded up by the CISF on Friday for fishing.
In spite of the assurances of the authorities that there would be no fishing ban around the LNG Terminal and other areas of the Kochi backwaters, detention of fishermen continues, according to Charles George, president of Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi and convener of the Fisheries Coordination Committee.
Mr. George said three fishermen were rounded up by the Central Industrial Security Force on Friday for fishing using canoes in the Kochi waters. They were Prathapan of Panikkarupady, Kunjachan of Gothuruthu and Gopi of Malienkara. They were later released upon tendering an apology in writing that they would never fish in the areas.
Mr. George noted that the detention was on the day after the Navy and other central security forces had at a meeting called by the District Collector denied that there was any fishing ban in place and that the allegations by fishing unions were untrue. The meeting was attended by CISF officials too, Mr. George said.
He alleged that CISF had been frequently rounding up fishermen and taking them to their offices and occasionally assaulting them. The Fisheries Coordination Committee, with the support of several political parties including the CPI(M), had on Saturday organised a ‘Manushyakkadal’ agitation at Fort Kochi and Vypeen to protest against the alleged ban on fishing.
The ‘Manushyakkadal’ included a brief blockade of the sea mouth by fishing boats and canoes. At the meetings held as part of the agitation, a pledge was taken that the life and livelihood of fishermen would be protected.
Mr. George said that the rounding up of fishermen on canoes was against the law and the CISF had no powers to detain fishermen in the State’s coastal waters. Though the Navy had suggested to the State government to ban fishing around the LNG Terminal and other areas for security purposes, the government had not issued any order to this effect. As such, the action by the CISF was illegal, Mr. George said and warned that the fishworkers unions would be forced to take direct action if the detention of fishermen continued.