Lal Koyilparambil, former president of the Swanthantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation said that a new organisation for fishermen will be formed at a meeting here on March 24.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Koyilparambil alleged that the Federation had failed to take up issues of fishermen and were in an inactive state. The existing organizations were not able to take up issues like the protection during fishing and that fishermen were getting only 10 per cent revenue of the fish catch and issues like their desertion from this sector to other sectors. Also, attempts to sell out their only small piece of land to tourism mafia have not been highlighted. Hence there was a need for a new organisation, he said.
On the incident of Italian ship shooting down two fishermen, he said that the manner in which the case was being pursued in this regard leaves many loopholes for the escape of the culprits. “If one were to examine the course of the case now, there is less possibility of the guilty being punished or compensation be paid to the families of the deceased. If the Italian ship in custody was allowed to go, the families of the deceased can never hope to get compensation,” he alleged.
He said that though the fishermen had repeatedly told that the accident took place between 20 and 24 nautical miles off the coast, the First Information Report (FIR) had mentioned it as having occurred at 34 nautical miles. “Kerala police has jurisdiction only up to 22 nautical miles,” he pointed out.
He said that while captain of the Indian ship, m.V.Prabhu Daya was arrested in the mid-sea ship-boat collision and sent to jail, the captain of the Italian ship was being given VIP treatment.
He said that the Finance Minister, K.M. Mani in the State Budget has promised protection to fishing sector, but even the Minister was not aware how this would be ensured. “This shows either the Government was deliberately ignoring the fishermen or they did not know what to do for the fishermen. But the Government is not to be blamed for this, as none of the organizations have put forth a single demand for the fishermen,” he alleged.
Felix Arattukulam and P.M. Varghese, former leaders of the Federation were also present.