Tamil Nadu

Sri Lankan court’s directive shocks Indian fishermen

At a stalemate: Efforts to release the boats through diplomatic channels did not yield results.  

The directive from a Sri Lankan court that 121 mechanised boats, which were seized from Indian fishermen, shall either be destroyed or sold through public auction has come as a big blow to the fishermen here.

Speaking to The Hindu about the development here on Sunday, fishermen association leader Sesu Raja said the Central government should take steps to bring them back to the Indian shores as they were still worth several crores. He said over the last five years, the Sri Lankan Navy personnel had arrested 1,300 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and seized close to 300 boats from them for alleged violations.

After several demonstrations held by the fishermen associations here and the representations made by the government with the Centre had resulted in the release of the arrested fishermen, who were languishing in various prisons there. They had also released 173 boats in August 2018.

Again, when the fishermen pressed for the release of the remaining boats, a team led by a senior officer from the government, technocrats and Mr. Sesu Raja visited Sri Lanka for an on-the-spot inspection of the condition of the boats. On their return, the team submitted a report to the government that 47 boats could be brought back. However, only 35 boats were retrieved after spending ₹48 lakh, Mr. Sesu Raja said.

Efforts to release the remaining boats through the diplomatic channels did not bring in any desired results. Due to the pandemic, normal activity had come to a standstill.

The fishermen in Sri Lanka, who had just commenced activities, had made a representation to the authorities that the seized boats from Indian fishermen posed problems to them. They could not anchor their boats at Mannar, Jaffna ports. The authorities moved the courts in Sri Lanka, which directed them to either destroy the boats or bring them to auction.

The fishermen associations here, on hearing the development, appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to immediately take it up with the Centre and help them retrieve the boats at the earliest.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 11:44:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sri-lankan-courts-directive-shocks-indian-fishermen/article33054601.ece

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