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Sri Lankan navy attacks Tamil Nadu fishermen again

The Sri Lankan navy has attacked Tamil fishermen from Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu early Tuesday this week, in yet another assault on Indian fishermen in a pattern that has been ongoing for years.

Whilst the fishermen were fishing in Dhanushkodi, the Sri Lankan navy is reported to have been patrolling in the area and have allegedly attacked the Tamil fishermen using stones, glass bottles and also destroyed the fishing material. The navy has also been accused of intimidating the fishermen at gunpoint.

Several Tamil fishermen suffered grave injuries, including facial injuries, as a result of the attacks by the Sri Lankan navy. Poondi Rajan of Thangachimadam and Suresh were among those who were attacked and are currently receiving treatment at a hospital. The attacks have also taken a toll on their income as the navy also caused damage to their speed-boats, nets and other fishing equipment. Fishermen who returned to the shores as a result of Sri Lankan intimidation lament that they have suffered losses worth from 30,000 to 100,000 rupees. 

Fisheries Minister of Tamil Nadu D. Jayakumar condemned the attack and said that the AIADMK government would take up the issue with the central government. ‘We are confident that the Centre would take up the matter with Sri Lanka to prevent attacks,’ he said. 

Other Tamil Nadu political parties have also expressed their protest against the Sri Lankan attack including the DMK and MDMK. MDMK secretary and MP Vaiko said that the root cause of the problem lay in India ceding Katchatheevu islet to Sri Lanka. ‘I urge the Centre to take appropriate steps to retrieve it,’ Vaiko added. 

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks Tamil Nadu fishermen have suffered at the hands of the Sri Lankan navy. The Indian government has so far made little efforts to broach this issue in its bilateral engagement with Sri Lanka. India ceded Katchatheevu, a historically Tamil islet, to Sri Lanka in 1974 and it has perpetually caused trouble to Tamil fishermen venturing into the sea. The central Indian government has since perennially neglected Tamil Nadu’s demand to reclaim Katchatheevu. This indifference on the part of New Delhi has contributed to the impunity with which the Sri Lankan navy has attacked, arrested and even killed Tamil fishermen over the years. 

The incident comes despite Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa discussing the issue in a virtual summit last month, pledging to "continue engagement to address the issues related to fishermen through regular consultation and bilateral channels according to the existing frameworks".

Also read more from the New Indian Express.

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