A fisherman was killed in an alleged attack by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel on an Indian fishing boat here near Kodiakkarai on Wednesday night.
Chellapan (50), along with three others had gone fishing on Wednesday morning. At about 9 p.m, a naval vessel with about 20 persons reportedly intercepted the Indian fishing boat south-east of Kodiakkarai. According to the fishermen, six of the naval personnel boarded their boat. The fishermen were assaulted and whipped with ropes. Chellapan is reported to have fainted and succumbed to the attack on the spot.
In a similar incident at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, a fishing boat south of Vedaranyam was attacked. Murugesan (30), Chinnapan (35), Illayaraja (18), Arivazhagan (24) were fishing, when some persons from a vessel that appeared to belong to the Sri Lankan Navy, boarded their boat, and subjected them to humiliation. Their torch lights and mobile phones were taken away and their nets and ice boxes damaged.
In Chennai, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi sought Central intervention to ensure that there were no further attacks on Tamil fishermen. Mr. Karunanidhi said this was not the first time that violence was unleashed against fishermen of the State.
In spite of repeated representations to the Union government, Prime Minister and Central Ministers concerned, there was no change in the plight of the fishermen. “Every time there is an attack on fishermen, the State appeals to the Centre which, in turn, shoots off a letter or makes a request to the Sri Lankan government to pacify Tamils but within days, the attacks resume,” he said.
During the negotiations before the signing of an agreement recently, India and Sri Lanka deliberated in detail the plight of Tamil fishermen and agreed that the fishermen would not be attacked or killed but should be treated properly by the Sri Lankan Navy even if they crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line. As the attacks still continued, the Centre should intervene immediately. The Centre should also provide full facts on the latest episode to people of the State, he demanded.
A sum of Rs. 3 lakh has been announced for the kin of fisherman from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
Later in the evening, Mr. Karunanidhi shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ministers of Home, Defence and External affairs, attaching his letter of condemnation released to the media which, he said, was self-explanatory, and called for the Centre's immediate intervention. Mr. Karunanidhi also ordered a solatium of Rs 3 lakh to the family of Chellappan, the fisherman from Nagapattinam district who was killed.
Meanwhile, the DMK fishermen wing has announced a massive protest in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner's office in Chennai on July 10 condemning the continued attack on fishermen.