The Assembly resolution, seeking the retrieval of Katchatheevu, evoked lukewarm reactions from the fishermen of Rameswaram island who are more worried about the need for an immediate solution to their fishing problem and a measured approach to secure the release of 30 fishermen lodged in a Sri Lankan prison since April 6.
Leaders of various fishermen associations said it might help them in the long run, but they were worried about the immediate problem of resuming fishing after the end of the 45-day ban period and securing the release of 30 fishermen.
The leaders expressed apprehension that the resolution, though adopted with the good intention to help the fishermen, should not backfire and lead to further extension of the remand of the 26 fishermen from Karaikal and 30 fishermen from Rameswaram beyond May 6. They were arrested on April 5 and 6 respectively for allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters and the Lankan courts have thrice extended their remand period.
“We fear that the resolution should not backfire and further delay the release of the fishermen. When a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk was assaulted in Tamil Nadu and the students staged protest demonstrations against Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Lankan authorities had turned their ire on the fishermen,” P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Costal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said.
S. Emarit, president of the Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said the fishermen would be too happy if the governments secured their traditional fishing rights in the Palk bay if not Katchatheevu.
N.J. Bose, president of the Rameswaram Port Mechanised Boats Fishermen Association, too said it would be enough if the governments held talks with the Sri Lankan government and secure their traditional fishing rights in the Palk bay. “Retrieval of Katchatheevu has never been a demand of the fishermen,” he said.