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Commotion in Tamil Nadu as Sri Lankan navy arrests more fishermen

Several Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy this week, causing a stir in Rameshwaram as fishermen protested against the detentions.

The fishermen from Rameshwaram were arrested and their boats seized following charges of fishing across the border. They were taken to Sri Lanka’s occupying Kankesanthurai navy base in Jaffna. Beforehand, Sri Lankan navy patrol boats chased away Tamil Nadu fishermen near Kachaithivu and Nedunthivu, warning them not to fish in the area.

Sri Lankan security officials say that the detainment of the Tamil Nadu fishermen comes following the continued intrusion into Sri Lankan waters. The security forces told reporters that they were awaiting confirmation from higher officials in Colombo would confirm whether the fishermen would be released or whether they would be tested for COVID-19 and detained.

Hearing about the arrests by the Sri Lankan navy, over one thousand Tamil Nadu fishermen returned to shore in fear. Those returning to shore accused Sri Lankan army ships of lining up across the sea and threatening them.

Representatives of fisheries associations held an emergency meeting in Rameshwaram due to the continued threats by the Sri Lankan navy and the Tamil Nadu government has been requested to provide protection for fishing in traditional waters and immediate action to prevent interruption of fishing activities.

The incident is the latest in the number of Tamil Nadu fishermen arrests by the Sri Lankan navy over the years, despite Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa pledging to "continue engagement to address the issues related to fishermen through regular consultation and bilateral channels according to the existing frameworks" in a virtual summit in September 2020.

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