Sri Lankan Navy detains 21 more Rameswaram fishermen on poaching charges; 64 fishers from Ramanathapuram held in a fortnight

The fishermen leaders are conducting a meeting to decide the next course of action

October 29, 2023 01:15 pm | Updated 01:44 pm IST - RAMESWARAM

Fishermen with their catch in Rameswaram on October 29, 2023. They returned to fishing after the Sri Lanka Navy arrested 37 fishermen and seized five of their boats.

Fishermen with their catch in Rameswaram on October 29, 2023. They returned to fishing after the Sri Lanka Navy arrested 37 fishermen and seized five of their boats. | Photo Credit: L. Balachandar

With the detention of 21 more Rameswaram fishermen, 64 fishermen from Ramanathapuram district were detained in three different incidents by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel on charges of poaching, in less than a fortnight, said fishermen leader P. Jesu Raja on Sunday, October 29, 2023.

He said that on October 13, 27 fishermen were arrested even as they were fishing within the Indian waters. However, claiming that the fishermen had crossed the IMBL, the Lankan Navy had arrested them and impounded five of their boats then.

Condemning the arrest, the fishermen had announced to go on an indefinite strike from October 14.

Under such circumstances, a few fishermen from the coastal habitations had appealed to the associations stating that they may be permitted to venture into the sea due to livelihood issues.

Fishermen with their catch in Rameswaram on October 29, 2023. They returned to fishing after the Sri Lanka Navy arrested 37 fishermen and seized five of their boats.

Fishermen with their catch in Rameswaram on October 29, 2023. They returned to fishing after the Sri Lanka Navy arrested 37 fishermen and seized five of their boats. | Photo Credit: L. Balachandar

On October 27, the Fisheries department had issued 463 tokens to the fishermen. However, on October 28, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 16 fishermen near Talaimannar and Dhanuskodi and impounded two of their boats under charges of crossing the IMBL.

Within a span of about an hour, the Sri Lankan Navy personnel again detained another 21 fishermen near Neduntheevu and had taken them to Kankesanthurai Navy port late in the night with three boats.

Highly insecure to venture

The fishermen leader N.J. Bose said that the fishermen are being taken to task for no fault of theirs by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel. Fishing in Palk Bay has become a high risk and highly insecure. “Under some pretext or the other, the SL Naval authorities held the fishermen from TN,” he charged.

The Union and State governments should come to the rescue and give an assurance that there would not be any more arrests in mid-sea, after which alone it would be safe to go for fishing.

The fishermen leaders’ are conducting a meeting to decide the next course of action, he added.

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