‘Will boycott LS polls’, say TN fishermen associations after 23 arrested by SL Navy
Chennai, Feb 4 (IANS) Fishermen associations in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district on Sunday threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha elections after several fishermen from the district were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.
On Saturday, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 23 fishermen from Rameswaram and Thangachimadam and also impounded two mechanised boats. The fishermen were engaged in fishing at Neduntheevu when they were arrested by the Lankan Navy.
According to information available, the Sri Lankan authorities have taken the 23 fishermen to the Myliti Port and were likely to be produced in a court.
An urgent meeting was convened by the fishermen associations on Sunday in Thangachimadam where a resolution was passed making an appeal to the Centre to secure the release of the 23 fishermen from Sri Lanka.
The meeting also passed a resolution to get the 150 impounded mechanised boats lying in Sri Lanka Ports without any delay as it would rescue the fishermen from the debts.
The resolution also added that if there was any failure to look into the demands of the fishermen, the fisherfolks would boycott the Lok Sabha election and would also not allow any of their members to cast votes in the polling stations in the fishing hamlets of Rameswaram and Thangachimadam.
The boats, belonging to J. Sahayaraj and A. James, in which 23 fishermen were engaged in fishing in the mid-sea, were held by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel on Saturday night.
Subsequently, they were taken to Sri Lanka. Fishermen association leaders condemned the arrests and said that in the recent past, arresting the fishermen along the Palk Bay waters by the Sri Lankan Navy had become a regular affair.
Around 10 fishermen were arrested on January 18 just before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 21.
However, they were let off in two days, apparently due to the presence of the Prime Minister in the district.
The association leader, Jesu Raja told media persons that from 2018 to 2024 the Sri Lankan Navy personnel have impounded 150 boats.
While the arrested fishermen were released due to the intervention of the Union government, the boats, however, were not released from Sri Lankan custody.
Fishermen association leader Johnson Sebastian while speaking to IANS said, “Each boat costs around Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore. After the boats were impounded, the livelihood of the fishermen was impacted.”
He also called upon the Centre to intervene at the top level and help in getting back all the boats that were impounded since 2018.