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Outrage in Tamil Nadu after 55 fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan navy

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has written to India’s External Affairs Minister, as protests were launched in Rameswaram today, after the Sri Lankan navy seized at least eight boats and arrested 55 fishermen on the charge of poaching.

The Sri Lankan navy announced that the 55 had been arrested in a “special operation” in Mannar and Jaffna over the 18th and 19th of December “as part of the Navy’s effort to prevent poaching by Indian fishing trawlers in Sri Lankan territorial waters”.

The fishermen, mostly from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, have since been held by Sri Lankan authorities. Earlier today, the Mannar Magistrate ordered 12 of the fishermen to be kept in remand until January 3rd.

In Tamil Nadu however, outrage quickly spread with Chief Minister M K Stalin writing to External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, stating the arrests were “condemnable”.

The repeated attempts by the Sri Lankan navy to prevent the exercise of traditional rights by fishermen of the State by intimidatory tactics must not be allowed to continue further,” wrote Stalin. “I requested the concerted efforts by the Government of India to address this festering issue,” he added.

As protests were launched, Jesu Raja, President of All Mechanised Boats Association, told The Hindu that “the Union and State governments should immediately intervene and protect all the fishermen and bring back the trawlers”. “Until then, the fishermen will not venture into the sea,” he added.

Several other representatives accused the government of neglecting the abuses of the Sri Lankan state against Tamil Nadu fishermen, a regular occurrence which has led to arrests and several killings over the years.

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