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Fishermen issue rocks Parliament

    J. Balaji
    K. Balchand
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Parties reprimand Centre for failing to take action; Houses adjourned

The released fishermen unloading fish catch in Rameswaram on Thursday.— Photo: L. Balachandar
The released fishermen unloading fish catch in Rameswaram on Thursday.— Photo: L. Balachandar

The DMK, the AIADMK, the CPI and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) members went hammer and tongs at the UPA government in both the Houses of Parliament on Thursday on the issue of continued killings, firings, arrest and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen on the high seas by the Sri Lankan naval personnel. The DMK went to the extent of charging that India had become one of the weakest countries in protecting its citizens.

The parties forced adjournment of both the Houses on the issue.

In the evening, the Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur made a statement on the issue in Lok Sabha and her senior Salman Khurshid in the Rajya Sabha. Not satisfied with her reply, AIADMK members staged a walkout.

Raising the issue of arrest of fishermen on Wednesday and Thursday by the Sri Lankan Navy, T.K.S. Elangovan said in the Lok Sabha: “India is one of the biggest democracies in this part of the globe, but one of the weakest in protecting its own citizens. That is what has happened in Sri Lanka with regard to Rameswaram fishermen and the terrorist attack on CRPF men in Kashmir”. Mr. Elangovan said the attacks on fishermen had become a daily affair. Many assurances were given by the Government that fishermen would be protected. “But so far, they were not protected.” M. Thambidurai (AIADMK) pointed out that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had written several letters on the issue to the Prime. In the Rajya Sabha, the AIADMK members, led by its leader V. Maitreyan, trooped into the well demanding that the government make efforts to ensure the release of over 50 fishermen arrested by Sri Lanka.

When Chairman Hamid Ansari warned him, Mr. Maitreyan along with his two party colleagues N. Balaganga and A. Elavarasan squatted in the well. Mr. Ansari then adjourned the House till noon.

Earlier, Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said that in March alone six incidents of arrest of fishermen had taken place and demanded a permanent solution to the problem.

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