‘Bodies of two fishermen recovered in the Palk Strait’

The boat sank after occupants ‘resisted arrest’, say Sri Lankan officials

January 21, 2021 12:45 am | Updated 04:23 am IST - COLOMBO/PUDUKOTTAI

Two bodies, reportedly of fishermen, have been recovered in the Palk Strait, the Sri Lankan Navy said on Wednesday.

“Diving operations have been hampered because of bad weather. Search for the remaining two fishermen will resume soon,” spokesman Indika de Silva told The Hindu . The boat that sank has been found.

The recovery follows news of four Tamil Nadu fishermen “going missing” late Monday, hours after they set out fishing. The Sri Lankan Navy had earlier said that one boat, with four fishermen on board, “sank”, as the Sri Lankan patrol units tried apprehending it, along with some 50 fishing trawlers, found “poaching” in the Sri Lankan territorial waters. The boat sank after it “resisted arrest”, according to officials.

Asked of reports emerging from fishermen in Tamil Nadu, of the said vessel being seen “towed away” by the Sri Lankan Navy before it went “missing”, Captain de Silva said, “That is not true. Before our patrol vessel could apprehend them, they resisted the operation and rammed onto our Navy vessel. It destabilised and sank.”

The Sri Lankan Navy recently stepped up efforts to arrest foreign vessels fishing “illegally” in its waters.

Fishermen of Kottaipattinam, from where a group of four had ventured into the sea for fishing on a mechanised boat, have expressed shock and anguish over the reported deaths.

The fishermen, A. Mesia, 30, V. Nagaraj, 52, N. Sam, 28, and S. Senthil Kumar, 32, all belonging to Ramanathapuram district had gone missing after setting sail on the boat.

A search party of 12 fishermen, who went on three fishing trawlers, returned on Wednesday.

The fishermen of Kottaipattinam and adjoining fishing hamlets in Ramanathapuram district raised suspicions over the death of their colleagues.

“We strongly feel that there is a mystery behind the death of the fishermen. Facts are being distorted and hidden. We apprehend that they were killed,” said U. Arulanandam of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF).

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