A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court Bench here seeking a direction to the Central as well as State governments to issue firearms as well as gun licences free of cost to fishermen to defend themselves from alleged frequent assaults by the Sri Lankan Navy. Human Rights Protection Centre-Tamil Nadu, a social welfare organisation represented by its deputy secretary S. Vanchinathan (30), had filed the petition through its counsel T. Lajapathi Roy.
The organisation claimed that the Sri Lankan Navy had killed nearly 378 fishermen between 1983 and 2005.
“However, the respondents (Union of India and State of Tamil Nadu) are only staging diplomatic dramas and are not taking any tangible steps to protect the lives and livelihood of the fishermen community from the atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan forces… If they cannot ensure the safety of the fishermen community then they should provide arms to them to protect their livelihood,” its affidavit read. It also claimed that the government giving arms to weaker section of people for self defence was not a new concept; rather it was a well recognised one as provided under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.