Protesting further extension of judicial remand of 41 fishermen from Rameswaram

Fishermen on Friday announced the launch of an indefinite strike, protesting further extension of judicial remand of 41 fishermen from Rameswaram and demanding the immediate release of all the 146 fishermen incarcerated in Sri Lankan prisons.

As news broke out that the Mannar district court has extended the judicial remand of 41 Rameswaram fishermen till September 20, leaders of 11 fishermen associations convened an emergency meeting here on Friday and decided to launch an indefinite strike from Saturday.

P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said the meeting expressed dismay over the extension of remand when the fishermen were hopeful of their release, especially after a delegation met Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam in Delhi a few days ago.

In all, 141 fishermen arrested in the last two months and five fishermen arrested on charges of drug trafficking in November 2009 were lodged in prisons of Sri Lanka. The 141 fishermen included 41 from Rameswaram, 35 from Pamban, 34 from Nagapattinam and 31 from Karaikal.

Three days ago, the Point Pedro court had ordered the release of 34 Nagapattinam fishermen, but they refused to return as the court did not release their five trawlers.

Mr. Raju said the meeting decided that fishermen would hoist black flags on their boats on Sunday to register protest against the “Centre’s apathy” towards the fishermen.

The protest was also to urge the authorities secure the fishermen’s traditional fishing rights in the Palk Bay and retrieve Katchatheevu.

The indefinite strike was also to urge the State and Central governments to arrange for a meeting between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen to work out a solution for peaceful fishing in Palk Bay.

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