Sri Lanka Navy allegedly attacks Rameshwaram fishermen with stones, bottles

About 5000 fishermen were allegedly attacked near the island of Katchatheevu in the middle of the night, forcing them to return home empty handed.
Representative image of fishing trawlers
Representative image of fishing trawlers

About 5,000 fishermen from Rameshwaram were allegedly attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy past midnight, December 5 when they were fishing near the island of Katchatheevu. The SL Navy threw stones and bottles to drive them away, leading to damage to about 10 boats, fishermen who returned following the incident alleged.

The fishermen had set out into the sea following a prolonged break forced on them by squally weather and rains in the preceding weeks. The island of Katchatheevu belongs to Sri Lanka, but depleted marine life on the Indian side of the International Maritime Borderline (IMBL) has often necessitated fishermen to cross over to the Lankan side in order to survive. In this case, the fishermen had allegedly not even crossed the IMBL when the Lankan Navy appeared on three boats and attacked them, giving them no choice but to return home empty handed, fearing for their lives. 

Speaking to TNM, Devadoss president of the Rameshwaram Meenavar Sangam (fishermen’s association) says, “They had gone out to sea after a long time. The fishermen-labourers on the boats hoped to make just about Rs 500 for their families. Diesel prices are up, if they return home without catch both the labourers and the boat owners will sustain losses.” None of the fishermen sustained injuries in this incident, Devadoss says.

Motorised fishing boats are usually worked by the owner and a team of five to seven fishermen-labourers, depending on the size of the boat. Those living in districts whose waters are close to the IMBL have for years faced repeated attacks, shootings, arrests, destructions or seizure of boats and nets by the Lankan Navy. Little relief has been provided to them despite this long ongoing struggle. Devadoss says that there can be no end to this unless the Indian government engages with the Sri Lankan government properly on this issue.

A complaint in this regard was lodged with Tamil Nadu fisheries authorities, Devadoss had earlier told PTI.

With inputs from PTI

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