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Tamil Nadu fishermen to end protest after talks with Nirmala Sitharaman

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-03-2017 PTI

Rameswaram (TN): Fishermen agitating over the killing of a colleague allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy decided to withdraw their six-day old protest on Monday after talks with union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Pon Radhakrishnan in Rameswaram on Sunday.

The breakthrough came after talks between a delegation of fishermen leaders led by Struggle Committee President Arualanandam and the two ministers at a hotel in Rameswaram. Arulanandam said the ministers have assured that the fishermen’s demands would be met following which they decided to call off their agitation by Monday evening after the funeral of the slain fisherman Bridgo.

The fisherman was shot dead on 6 March allegedly by the Lankan Navy personnel while fishing in a mechanised boat off Katchatheevu islet. The fishermen have been on the protest since 7 March, refusing to receive the body of the youth unless a central minister visits the island and gives them an assurance that such incidents would not recur.

ALSO READ: 53 Indian fishermen released from Sri Lankan jail, 32 still in custody

Earlier in the day, commerce minister Sitharaman accompanied by Radhakrishnan, senior BJP leader from the state, visited the fishermen at nearby Thangachimadam and appealed to them and the mother of 22-year old Bridgo to end the agitation and arrange for his burial.

Later, she held talks with the fishermen leaders. Ramanthapuram district collector S. Natarajan and other officials were present. Natarajan told reporters that the fishermen have agreed to withdraw the agitation Monday after the funeral of Bridgo.

Another fishermen leader P. Sesuraja said the community had already given a call for a one-day fast on Monday. After the fast, the funeral would be held and the agitation would be withdrawn, he added.

The fishermen’s decision to withdraw the stir comes two days after Sri Lanka released 53 Indian fishermen, arrested in recent past, as per a decision by the two countries to set free fishermen in each other’s custody to defuse the tension following the killing of Bridgo.

The fishermen drew support from several political leaders who visited them and expressed solidarity, demanding the Centre’s intervention in nabbing the culprits. Chief Minister K Palaniswami last week wrote to the Centre and urged it to summon Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India forthwith and convey to him “the strong feelings of the government of India and government of Tamil Nadu about the ‘unprovoked’ firing on fishermen and non-adherence to earlier agreements on this issue.”

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