Tamil Nadu

Fishermen form joint action council

U.Arulanandam, Tamil Nadu representative of the "Alliance for the release of Innocent Fisherman". Photo: K. Pichumani

U.Arulanandam, Tamil Nadu representative of the "Alliance for the release of Innocent Fisherman". Photo: K. Pichumani  

Fishermen associations in Tamil Nadu and part of Puducherry have come together under the banner of ‘Joint Action Council Against Violation of Rights of Fishermen’ to launch a campaign for their various demands that include restoration of “traditional” fishing rights at Katchatheevu, common fishing policy between India and Sri Lanka and immediate steps to prevent mid-sea attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy.

At the first conference of the council in Thangachimadam at Rameswaram planned on December 11, a ‘public hearing’ will be held to redress the grievances of fishermen. A Permanent People’s Tribunal is being set up at Rameswaram for the welfare of the fishermen community.

“Hundreds of fishermen have been killed and many have lost their boats, catch (fish) and communication gadgets. Fishermen have been subjected to untold hardships,” said U. Arulanandam, Tamil Nadu Representative of the ‘Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen.’

Describing Katchatheevu as a ‘traditional fishing ground’ for Tamil Nadu fishermen, he said the right to use the island for drying nets and celebrating festivals was only on paper. “We have lost 8 km-wide and 140-km long waters that have immense wealth of fish. Traditionally, our people have been fishing there for decades. Now, we are not even allowed to go near the island.”

Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Mr.Arulanandam said the problems of fishermen remained even after the fall of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Earlier, the Sri Lankan Navy accused fishermen of providing supplies to the LTTE and imposed several restrictions. Now, they were accused of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.

Mr.Arulanandam said even Sri Lankan fishermen ventured into Indian waters for fishing. But they were never shot at or humiliated. “There is a drastic fall in the number of fishing boats entering the sea. Acute poverty is prevailing in coastal hamlets. We are requesting politicians to cut across party lines and participate in our conference on December 11,” he said.

The State coordinator of the Citizens for Human Rights Movement C.J. Rajan said the Governments of the two countries should facilitate creation of a common fishing policy. It was the first time that a public hearing was being organised to listen to the human rights violations of fishermen. “Our fact finding teams have identified about 57 cases that would come up for hearing. Family members of those killed, injured and missing are in very poor living conditions,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 2:30:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Fishermen-form-joint-action-council/article16851550.ece

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