The 136 Indian fishermen, held captive by the Sri Lankan fishermen for alleged breach of boundary and later remanded to judicial custody early this week in Sri Lanka, reached the port premises here on Saturday.
For scores of fisherfolk who had gathered there, it was a mixed feeling of relief and ‘betrayal,' the latter towards Sri Lankan Tamil fisherfolk, who allegedly perpetrated the attacks.
“We are unable to fathom the action of Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen,” Kandasamy, who was among those captured, told The Hindu.
Early this week, the first spate of attacks and capture of Indian fisherfolk was reported. The Sri Lankan fisherfolk were then on the fourth day of a strike, calling upon the Sri Lankan government to “act against Indian fishermen,” for breach of territorial waters and exploitation of their share of marine wealth, according to Kandasamy.
When no action was forthcoming, the Sri Lankan fisherfolk resorted to attacks, with alleged logistical support from Sri Lankan Navy.
The fishermen from the State alleged that the attacks by Sri Lankan fisherfolk were “instigated” by the Sri Lankan Navy to “mask its operations” against Indian fishermen.
“When we were taken to Vadamaraachi fishing habitation in Jaffna, the navy, army and police were already there, awaiting our arrival,” said Shakthivel.
The released fisherfolk include 24 from Jagadhapattinam in Pudukottai, 11 from Karaikal, 95 from Nagapattinam and 6 from Rameswaram. Of the 25 boats brought to safety, boats from Jagadhapattinam in Pudukottai district suffered considerable damage. Most of them had their glass panes broken.
Further, fisherfolk alleged losses following the seizure of their catch and gadgets such as GPS and mobile phones and nets. According to them, the attacks took place well within international waters.
Keywords: Sri Lankan Tamils