We are not Sri Lankan Navy to attack our fishermen: official

Fishermen here have alleged attacks by the Indian Coast Guard off Karaikal port. However, the Indian Coast Guard station strongly denied the charge. According to fishermen, the personnel from the Indian Coast Guard ship roughed up about 10 fishermen and snapped their fishing nets. The incident occurred when they were fishing with the banned purse seine nets. They also alleged damage to nets.

The fishermen said the boats were checked for their licences and the nets snapped. However, the fishing villages did not lodge a complaint with the fisheries department.

Denying the allegations, the Coast Guard station said the boats had cornered a boarding team that was sent out by the Indian Coast Guard ship as a standard procedure.

Speaking to The Hindu, a senior Coast Guard official said as part of the beefed up coastal security in view of the Prime Minister’s visit, a Coast Guard boarding team was despatched on citing the boats. The boats were found to have used the banned purse seine nets.

When the team warned them, they cornered the personnel and altercation followed. “We were informed that the fishermen behaved in an unruly manner with the personnel who were just doing their duty,” the official said.

The Indian Coast Guard Station had recently warned fishermen against adopting banned fishing practices. “This is absolutely untrue, and intended to malign the name of the Coast Guard. We are not Sri Lankan Navy to attack our own fishermen,” the senior official said. In the light of this incident, the Coast Guard Station has written to the Department of Fisheries, Karaikal wanting to know how the fishermen were in possession of purse seine nets.

Meanwhile, members of the National Fishworkers Forum have condemned the alleged attack on fishermen.

According to the General Secretary of the NFF M. Ilango, the Coast Guard does not have the right to damage nets or assault the fishermen.

The officials should have reported it to the State government authorities and told them to take action. They should not take action by themselves. The NFF will be writing to the National Human Rights Commission to take up the issue, he said.

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