This brings the total number of Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lanka in the past week to 50.
The Sri Lankan government now has 85 fishermen and over 136 trawlers in its custody.
In today’s arrest, 15 fishermen from Rameshwaram were arrested – and two of their trawlers confiscated – near Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.
As well, nine fishermen from Pudukkotai were arrested near Jaffna, and two trawlers taken away.
They will soon be presented before a Sri Lankan court.
The continuous arrests just ahead of the St Antony’s Feast festival in Katchatheevu, which will be held on March 11 and 12, have caused widespread disappointment and anger among fishermen in Tamilnaadu.
“In the last one week 50 fishermen have been arrested and these arrests just ahead of the Katchatheevu festival is questionable. Also, after the fourth round of talks that happened in January between the two countries on the fishermen issue they had said that there won’t be anymore arrests and now a series of arrests have taken place. The two countries are silent about it also. No one cares for the fishermen,” said Emerald, a fishermen leader from Rameshwaram.
In fact, the fishing community is all set to have an emergency meeting, in which the main agenda would be to boycott the St Antony’s feast festival citing the arrests.
Jesudas, a fishermen whose trawler is in the Sri Lankan government’s custody said, “These trawlers are very expensive and are source of our livelihood. The state and the central government should do the needful to retrieve them for us. Without the boats, we don’t have a life.”
These fishermen have already been appealing to the Union and state governments to help secure the release of those arrested, as well as the trawlers in Sri Lankan custody. They’re planning a road roko on March 6.