The fishermen from Rameswaram today decided to boycott the two-day festival at Anthony’s church to Katchatheevu to protest against Sri Lanka not releasing 67 boats belonging to them.
As per an Indo-Sri Lankan agreement, Indian fishermen have right to fish near Katchatheevu, dry their fishing nets there and offer worship at the church, Fishermen’s Association leaders Devadoss and S Emiret said.
While the Sri Lankan government was allowing worship, they were harassing the fishermen who put out sea in the Palk strait, they said.
The fishermen also decided not to provide boats for those who wanted to visit the Katchatheevu for the festival.
The fishermen also protested against the new regulation brought out by Sri Lanka to levy a fine up to Rs five lakh and imprisonment for six months for those who crossed the IMBL and intruded into their territory.
Fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam and Karaikaral and Puducherry Fishermens Association have decided to boycott fishing from tomorrow and hold a fast on January 26th demanding the relese of the boats.
Though India ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka through treaties in 1974 and 1976, pilgrims from the country are allowed to take part in the annual festival of St Antony’s Church in the islet.
About 4,000 Indian pilgrims, including women and children, participated in the annual festival of St Antony’s Church last year. ( PTI)