They demand release of 18 fishermen held on Monday

About 3,000 country boat fishermen at Pamban launched an indefinite strike on Tuesday, protesting the arrest of 18 fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy on Monday, and demanding their immediate release, even as the Magistrate court in Kayts remanded them in judicial custody till January 10.

The fishermen, who used to fish in the south sea and north sea off Pamban and moved to Sangumal, Kunthukal and Therkuvadi coasts in the island during January to March due to gusty winds in Pamban, struck work after hoisting black flags in 300 and odd boats.

“We have launched the indefinite strike to make the Central and State governments to act fast and secure the release of the fishermen at the earliest,” S.P. Royappan, president of the district country boat fishermen association said.

The strike would hit the livelihood of about 5,000 families of fisher folk and others who depend on fishing trade, but “we have no other option,” he told The Hindu.

CM writes to PM

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday said the continuing attacks on and abduction of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lanka “will not make for a congenial atmosphere for any meaningful talks even at the level of fishermen associations of the two countries.”

She said this in a letter to Dr.Singh while reiterating her position that the Centre must take a strong line and prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to end unprovoked attacks and arrests.

It was unfortunate, Ms.Jayalalithaa said, that in a situation where the State government was taking a conciliatory approach and helping to facilitate fishermen-level talks, instances of attack on fishermen and their abduction continued unabated. She urged Dr. Singh to secure the immediate release of 256 Indian fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails.

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