With 84 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 10 from Karaikal languishing in Sri Lankan prisons, political parties are demanding their immediate release. Pattali Makkal Katchi leader S Ramadoss alleged that Sri Lankan navy personnel were forcefully taking the fishermen from Indian waters and charging them falsely for trespassing into Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.
In a statement, Ramadoss said 29 fishermen from Akkaraipettai in Nagapattinam district were fishing near Point Calimere when the Sri Lankan navy attacked and apprehended them. Incidents of the Sri Lankan navy falsely framing Indian fishermen and of the Sri Lankan navy infiltrating Indian waters have increased. Apprehending innocent fishermen and remanding them in custody for nearly 3 months in prison are human rights violations and is a very dangerous trend followed by Sri Lanka, he charged.
Ramadoss said that when the territorial borderline is very narrow, it is not right to detain fishermen for trespassing. Hence, a long lasting solution has to be sought. The centre should ensure that both countries arrive at an amicable agreement to engage in fishing activities. Efforts should be taken to immediately release the detained fishermen and their boats, he said.
Tamil Manila Congress president G K Vasan also urged the central government to ensure the release of the fishermen before the Pongal festival.
Meanwhile, a Trincomalee court on Friday remanded 29 Nagapattinam fishermen held on December 30 in judicial custody till January 11. They have been lodged in the Trincomalee prison.
In 2015, the Sri Lankan navy apprehended 466 fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in 27 cases. Fishermen activist U Arulanandam of the Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen said “a lasting solution will be to advise the fishermen of Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai and Nagapattinam to take up deep sea fishing by providing the necessary equipment. Developing the Mukkaiyur fishing harbour in Ramanathapuram will be of great help,” he said.
Even though parties in Tamil Nadu have been claiming that fishermen are being taken forcibly by the Sri Lankan navy, the naval website has been posting documents of the coordinates of the Indian fishermen held by them. The recent detention of 29 fishermen was carried out 7 nautical miles northeast off Kokilai in Trincolmalee, according to the Sri Lankan navy.(Times of India)