Tamil Nadu

Film director Gowthaman denied permission to visit Katchatheevu

Pilgrims to Katchatheevu waiting for security clearance at Rameswaram jetty on Friday.

Pilgrims to Katchatheevu waiting for security clearance at Rameswaram jetty on Friday.

Escorted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Marine police of the Coastal Security Group (CSG), pilgrims, mostly fisher folk in this island set sail for the two-day annual St. Antony’s Church festival in Katchatheevu on Friday as police denied permission to activist-film director V.Gowthaman.

In all, 2,103 pilgrims – 1,693 men, 357 women, 28 male children and 25 female children had registered for the pilgrimage and about 2,000 pilgrims are expected to join the pilgrimage as there were some absentees, Fr A. Antonysamy, priest of the Rameswaram-Verkodu parish and chief coordinator of the pilgrimage, said.

Mr. Gowthaman, who had registered for the pilgrimage and came to the fishing jetty was denied permission as he faced criminal cases and could not obtain ‘No objection certificate’ from the Chennai police. Mr. Gowthaman protested the denial of permission, stating that it was against violation of human rights.

The pilgrims from the island and other districts assembled at the fishing jetty here around 5 am and after completing the immigration and customs formalities and police checks, the first batch of 30 pilgrims with five crew members sailed at 6 30 am in a mechanised boat and they reached Katchatheevu islet at 9 10 am, officials said.

Film director V.Gowthaman.

Film director V.Gowthaman.


Collector S. Natarajan who inspected the facilities at the jetty, saw off the pilgrims. He instructed the officials to ensure that all the pilgrims wore life jackets while sailing. “The pilgrimage has started and it is going on smoothly,” Mr. Natarajan said.

Till 10 30 am, around 1,000 pilgrims have sailed in 30 mechanised fishing boats, officials said. The pilgrims were escorted by the ICG and CSG up to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). From there, they were escorted by the Sri Lankan navy to the islet.

The pilgrims were allowed to board the trawlers only after they were cleared by the district and Q branch police, Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies. Among those undertaking the pilgrimage included A. Kayalvizhi, Principal District Judge. She is being accompanied by her family members.

Local fishermen carried a 35 ft long teakwood flag mast to be installed in the newly built church in the islet. They were also taking two statues of St. Antony, monstrances for worship and chalice for holy mass as thanks giving gift for the newly built church in the islet.

Last year, a record 5,015 pilgrims had registered but they could not undertake the pilgrimage after the local fisher folk boycotted the festival (held on March 11 and 12), protesting against the gunning down of fisherman K. Britjo, allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy and forced the parish to call off the pilgrimage.

The festival begins on Friday evening with Way of the Cross procession, jointly taken out by Lankan and Tamil pilgrims followed by Benediction and Eucharistic adoration followed by evening mass.

After the Feast Mass conducted by the Vicar General of Jaffna Diocese, marking the culmination of the two-day celebrations, the pilgrims would return back on Saturday afternoon.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 10:10:06 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/film-director-gowthaman-denied-permission-to-visit-katchatheevu/article61479976.ece