Staff Reporter

Fishermen stay away fearing arrest

Pickets have been posted in the colony and surrounding areasTrouble began when the fishermen made a fresh set of demands

KANCHEEPURAM/CHENNAI: A peace committee meeting called by the Kancheepuram district administration and the police to ease the tension between the fishermen community and the management of a resort at Kovalam failed to take off on Saturday.

The fishermen of Kovalamkuppam stayed away from the meeting, fearing arrest. Finally, the meeting was put off. The police said pickets had been posted in the colony and surrounding areas.

The tension in Kovalam, a village famous for its dargah, began on Thursday night when police landed up in the hamlet and started looking for some youth, who, they said, were "creating trouble to a nearby star hotel." Villagers alleged that the police used force and took away nine persons. The local DSP, however, denied it. Representatives from 25 fishing hamlets in the city and along the coast up to Mahabalipuram landed up to decide the next course of action. According to both sides, trouble began when the fishermen made a fresh set of demands to the hotel. They wanted the rice given to them by the hotel increased and educational support for students of the village.

"Unreasonable"

A spokesperson of the Taj group of hotels on Friday termed the demands "unreasonable."

The hotel had taken up many projects in the village and was associated with its development. "We have been doing a lot of work there. We have been helping them, all this only because we want good relationship with the village. We will continue with these activities," he said.

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