Chennai, February 17: The fishermen's associations in Tamil Nadu's Ramanathapuram district have announced to boycott fishing along the Palk Bay for an indefinite period following the increasing number of arrests of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy. The fishermen's associations have also announced to boycott the two-day annual festival of St George church in Katchatheevu to be held on February 23-24.

All the six associations of Tamil fishermen have announced the boycott. The association leaders also said that black flags would be hoisted atop the dwellings of the fishermen as a mark of protest against the continuing attack on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy. The announcement was made after an emergency meeting in Rameswaram on Saturday, which was attended by fishermen and their families in large numbers. The meeting that lasted for more than an hour was presided over by fishermen association leader R. Sagayam. Tamil Nadu: 18 Indian Fishermen Arrested by Sri Lankan Navy Over Maritime Violations Return Home (Watch Video)

Another fishermen association leader, P. Jesu Raja, told mediapersons that it has become a routine affair for the Sri Lankan Navy to arrest fishermen from Tamil Nadu on charges of poaching. “We are within our rights. We have been fishing along this stretch since time immemorial,” he said. On February 4, in two separate incidents, 42 fishermen were held by the Sri Lankan Navy and four trawlers belonging to them were impounded. The arrested fishermen were later remanded to judicial custody in the island nation.

A Sri Lankan court freed 20 of these fishermen on Friday, with a warning to not violate the IMBL (International Maritime Boundary Line) agreement. The court also awarded prison terms to two boatmen and one fisherman for having repeated the offence. Jesu Raja claimed when the fishermen were seeking help for their survival and livelihood, no tangible effort was made by the Union government to stop these arrests. He added that the Sri Lankan authorities have intensified their arrests of gullible fishermen from India. Tamil Nadu: Valinokkam Fisherman Releases Dolphin Caught in Net into Sea in Ramanathapuram (Watch Video)

The fishermen's leader also appealed to the Union and state governments to come to their rescue immediately by retrieving their mechanised boats impounded by the Sri Lankan authorities. He added, "An assurance that they will not be arrested while fishing alone would give the fishermen community confidence to venture into the sea, but until then they would stay away from the waters.” The meeting also resolved to stage a padayatra from Rameswaram to the Ramanathapuram district collector’s office on February 20, and hand over all documents issued to the fishermen by the state authorities, including their licence, since they have decided not to venture into the sea.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 17, 2024 06:18 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website