Sri Lankan navy officers assaulted a group of Tamil fishermen, leaving one man hospitalised with severe injuries.
The incident prompted the local fisherman in the area to gather and express their discontent in protest over the unprovoked attack near the Mannar bridge, yesterday.
The fisherman said that whilst they were on their usual fishing route, the patrolling navy officers stopped them and brutally hit their knees with batons and threatened to shoot them with their guns.
The fisherman prepared two boats to go on their usual fishing route and after presenting the necessary documentation to the navy officers and getting approval, they set out to sea.
When they set out on this route from the Mannar bridge, they were subject to three stops by the navy where they were intensely checked. The fisherman complained that they were unable to carry out their fishing activities properly on time, due to the rigorous checks.
They then realised they accidentally mixed up the permits on each boat and so brought the boats together so they could exchange the right permits for each boat.
Following this, navy officers in plain civil clothes stopped the fisherman at sea and asked them to produce their documents and permit. Before they were given a chance to present the documents, they were brutally assaulted, under the guise of “suspicious behaviour” leaving one man seriously injured. He was admitted to Mannar Hospital, yesterday.
The fisherman have voiced their concern over the introduction of multiple checkpoints within fishing zones, complaining it limits accessible fishing time to earn a living and that it also increases naval forces’ ability to incite unopposed violence.
The head of Mannar police came to the incident location and spoke with the fishermen in an attempt to diffuse the situation. An official complaint citing the assault was made to the Mannar police.