Fishermen, under Theeradesamatsya Thozhilali Union, marched to the office of the chairman of Cochin Port Trust on Wednesday to protest against the alleged assault on a fisherman by CISF jawan.
The protesters raised the demands of disciplinary action against the CISF jawan and steps to ensure freedom to work for traditional fishermen. As part of the protest, the fishermen declared that they were fishing in the backwater in front of the Port Trust chairman’s office and ascertaining their rights.
The incident that triggered the protest happened when Pulikkal Prathapan, a fisherman from Puthuvype, was reportedly stopped by CISF personnel on patrol for fishing inside restricted area near Ramanthuruth. The fisherman later complained that he was assaulted by the CISF jawan and that he suffered injuries. Mulavukadu Police registered a case on the basis of complaint, which was later transferred to Harbour Police, which is investigating the case.
Fishermen gathered at the Embarkation Jetty at Willington Island in nearly 50 country boats at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and took out the protest march to CPT chairman’s office, where there were stopped by the police. Addressing the protestors, Charles George, State secretary of TUCI, said it was condemnable that there was delay in initiating action against the jawan who assaulted the fisherman.
The 7-km-stretch from Harbour to Thevara Bridge is unofficially being treated as a fishing restricted zone. This move hampered the livelihood of fishermen, he said.
Even though 327 stake nets were removed for the Vallarpadom International Container Transshipment Terminal, 3 Chinese fishing nets were removed, 20 prawn farming fields were destroyed and 90 country boats lost their space for operation. The compensation package for all these were fixed at Rs. 97 lakh, out of which Rs. 60 lakh was to be released by the National Highway Authority of India and rest by Indian Railways. Only the railways had released its compensation component, Mr. George.
A meeting of all the stakeholders was first convened by the District Collector on October 20 last year and then by K. Babu, Minister for Fisheries on January 19. Former ministers S. Sarma and Dominic Presentation attended the second meeting.
“It was decided at the meeting that only the 2-km stretch in front of the LNG terminal will be kept as restricted area and the fishermen should be not be stopped anywhere else. But still incidents like these keep happening,” Mr. George said.