Fishermen of Rameswaram launched a strike on Monday, protesting against the continuing arrests of fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy and demanding a permanent solution to the problem.

About 3,700 fishermen in Rameswaram (750 trawlers) began the strike, while about 1,000 Pamban fishermen went on a day’s strike expressing solidarity with them.

However, about 3,000 fishermen in Mandapam did not join the strike.

Leaders of 11 fishermen associations in Rameswaram met on Sunday evening and decided to launch the strike to draw the attention of the State and Central governments to their plight and urge them to take steps to arrive at a permanent solution for peaceful fishing in the Palk Strait.

The Sri Lankan navy arrested 33 fishermen on the first day of the new fishing season on June 1 and a couple of days after releasing them, arrested 82 more fishermen in two separate incidents on Saturday and Sunday.

“We cannot afford to go on strike as the new season has just started and fishermen have heavily invested on repairing boats and mending nets. But, we have no option,” P. Sesu Raja and S. Emarit, fishermen leaders, said.

As part of intensifying the stir, fishermen would take out a rally from Verkodu to the taluk office near the bus stand on Wednesday, covering their mouths with black cloth and present a petition.

Fishermen have pinned their hopes on the new government at the Centre, they said adding, “It’s a life and death situation every time we venture into the sea and the governments should protect our livelihood.”

As the new fishing season coincided with new academic year, fishermen struggled to pay their wards’ school fees, as their livelihood was thrown out of gear with repeated arrests by the Sri Lankan navy, Mr. Emarit said.

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