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Tamil Nadu fishermen to go on hunger strike from 13 March

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-03-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: Fishermen protesting against the alleged killing of a 21-year-old by the Sri Lankan Navy on Monday night did not venture out for fishing for the third day on Thursday, demanding the Centre step in to find a solution for the frequent mid-sea skirmishes.

Meanwhile, fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Karaikal who are on a strike have decided to go on a fast from 13 March to protest against the action of the Sri Lankan government. The aggrieved family of K. Britjo continued to refuse to accept his body.

A large numbers of agitated fishermen have gathered at Thangachimadam, where Britjo lived.

The MPs from Tamil Nadu raised the issue in the Parliament on Thursday, pointing out that the Sri Lankan Navy frequently arrested Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Previously, chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami who has termed the Sri Lankan government’s act as “inhuman and barbaric” wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “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 should be conveyed in no uncertain terms.”

ALSO READ: Tamil Nadu fisherman killed, CM Palaniswami seeks Centre’s intervention

Colombo has denied that its Navy was involved in the firing and promised an investigation.

U. Arulanantham, president of Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF) said fishing was the only means of livelihood and over the years, governments had failed to take action over the issue.

The MPs also urged the central government to resolve the issue around the Katchatheevu island, which was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974 year.

The Tamil Nadu government’s case seeking abrogation of the 1974 Indo-Sri Lankan agreement that ceded the islet Katchatheevu along with the potential traditional fishing grounds of Tamil Nadu fishermen to Sri Lanka is pending before the Supreme Court of India.

When external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met with the Sri Lankan minister for foreign affairs Mangala Samaraweera and minister for fisheries and aquatic resources development Mahinda Amaraweera of Sri Lanka on 5 November, both the governments had agreed to the request of the fishermen’s associations that there would be no violence and no loss of life in the handling of fishermen by the navies and coast guards of the two countries.

According to a report submitted by the state government in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court, 85 Tamil Nadu fishermen were shot dead between the years 1991 and 2011. While 167 incidents of shooting by the Sri Lankan Navy were reported, 180 were injured in such incidents within the Indian waters, in the same period.

The report had also highlighted that 111 Indian fishermen were killed by the Sri Lanka’s Navy between 1983 and 2013.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) founder Vaiko has alleged that Sri Lankan Navy had so far killed 583 fishermen from Tamil Nadu apart from frequently arresting fishermen and detaining their boats.

In another development, 10 Sri Lankan fishermen who were detained by the Indian coast guard on Tuesday night along with their two boats on charges of poaching in India’s territorial waters have been remanded in the Puzhal central prison till 23 March.

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