A fisherman from Puddukottai in Tamil Nadu continues to be missing from Monday, October 18, after a Sri Lankan naval vessel rammed into the boat that he was on, along with two others. Officials said that the incident occurred on Monday when the three fishermen, Rajkiran (30), Suganthan (23), Arockia Xavier (32) ventured into the sea near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). Spotting the Sri Lankan naval vessel, the fishermen allegedly tried to escape. The naval vessel reportedly rammed the fleeing boat, knocking all three fishermen into the sea. While two of them were later pulled out of the water by the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN), the third continues to be missing. The incident is reported to have occurred near the island of Neduntheevu late on Monday night.
A statement from the Sri Lankan Navy said that they were engaged in “chasing away” Indian trawlers, and one vessel with “aggressive manoeuvres” resisted the chase, and alleged that this was the reason for the mid-sea collision. The Sri Lankan authorities also said that they are continuing to conduct search operations to find the missing fisherman. The statement added that the two other fishermen were in naval custody and had been detained in Kankesanthurai in Jaffna.
Tensions between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen and the Sri Lankan Navy have been on the rise for the past one year in the Palk Straits. Earlier, in January, four fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Samson Darwin (28), A. Mesiya (30), V. Nagaraj (52) and S. Senthilkumar (32), who had set sail from Pudukottai on January 18, 2021, died allegedly after their boat sank when the Sri Lankan Navy tried to arrest them. Fishermen of the hamlet alleged that they were beaten to death by the Sri Lankan Navy for crossing the IMBL. The then AIADMK government had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of each of the fishermen who died.
With IANS and PTI inputs