Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) leader and fisheries minister Douglas Devananda stated that he was “pleased to hear about the happy news” when describing the recent Sri Lankan navy attacks on Tamil Nadu fisherman.
Devananda made the comments on Wednesday (28th October) at a fisherman meeting held in Kilinochchi. “The Sri Lankan navy attacked Tamil Nadu fisherman with stones and glass bottles. I was pleased to hear about the happy news and if you do not bring this issue under control there will be clashes at sea,” he said.
In response to Devananda’s comments, the Rameswaram fishermen expressed strong condemnation. “Being a Tamil minister himself, him saying that the incident of attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen was one that was pleasant, is very painful,” said one fisherman. “It is not only the Rameswaram fishermen but also the Tamil Nadu fishermen who strongly condemn this,” they added.
The fishermen demanded the Sri Lankan minister to retract his statement as the Sri Lankan navy’s attacks on the fishermen continue with the situation causing great unrest and controversy. As a person who raised the issue of Indian fishermen with the Sri Lankan government several times, the fishermen say it has caused them great dismay that Devananda would make such a statement.
The fishermen also accused Devananda of attempting to stir up a tussle between Tamil fishermen of both sides of the international border by speaking about a fight breaking out in the middle of the sea. They added that there needs to be talks held immediately to re-establish the stalled talks about the Indo-Sri Lankan fisherman issue between the two countries.
The fishermen urged the state government to expedite the process to push the central government to reclaim Katchatheevu, a contentious issue that has long plagued relations between Chennai and New Delhi.
This incident comes two days after fishermen from Rameswaram ventured into the sea with over 450 speed boats when they were attacked by the Sri Lankan navy using stones and glass bottles. The fishermen returned to the shores having incurred huge pecuniary losses (about 100,000 rupees) and damage to their fishing equipment.