At least nine fishermen from Thangachimadam and Rameswam, who had ventured into the sea, were reportedly arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of crossing the IMBL, in the early hours of Sunday.
In support of the fishermen arrested, fishermen associations in the coastal district here have announced that they will go on a strike from Monday, and passed three resolutions to this effect at a meeting.
According to sources in the Fisheries Department, 517 mechanised boats had obtained tokens from Rameswaram and ventured into the sea on Saturday. Over 2,000 fishermen from Rameswaram, Thangachimadam, Mandapam and other hamlets were on the boats that left.
In a mechanised boat owned by A. Kirubai, of Manthope, Thangachimadam, there were nine fishermen including Kirubai (37), Valan Koushik (24), Micheyaas (30), Kingston (28), Sam Stiller (21), Nijaan (30), Brighton (22) and others. P Sesu Raja, a fishermen association leader said the nine were arrested. The Sri Lankan Navy personnel had arrested them when they were fishing in the Indian waters closer to Katchatheevu, he said. He further said that according to information reaching here, the arrested fishermen were taken to a camp in Kankesanthurai.
Speaking to The Hindu , a senior official at the Fisheries Department, Chennai said that a total of 36 fishermen in four mechanised boats from Rameswaram have been arrested by the SL Navy in less than a month. With Sunday’s arrest, 45 fishermen and five boats have been held by the Sri Lanakn authorities till date. When asked about a report that the Sri Lankan government had released seven out of the 36 fishermen, he said that they were yet to be handed over as they were all quarantined in a camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resolution condemns Sri Lanka government
The fishermen leaders, in a resolution passed at a meeting here, have condemned the Sri Lankan government for repeatedly arresting fishermen, who, they claimed, were fishing only in Indian territory and had not violated the IMBL. They insisted that both the Central and State governments consider their demands immediately and take steps for the release of the arrested fishermen. Until then, they said they would remain off the sea.
At a time, when the COVID-19 pandemic had made them poorer, such arrests had only forced them to seriously consider giving up fishing, Mr. Sesu Raja said.