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Tamil Nadu fishermen protest continues into second week

The ongoing protests by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Rameshwaram, calling on the Central government to intervene and secure the release of their fisherfolk from Sri Lankan custody, has entered into its second week of protest.

Earlier today, the Coimbatore Urban District Congress Committee formed a human chain agitation in Pamban in Ramanathapuram to show their displeasure at the inaction of the central government over the fisherfolk issue. The group also intends to display black flags to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Kulasekarapattinam to lay the foundation for ISRO rocket launch. 

The agitations were led by Fishermen Congress National President Armstrong Fernando who told all those gathered that the Sri Lankan government deserves to be condemned for destroying the livelihood of their fellow fishermen and the central government should be blamed for not taking measures to prevent it.

He said that the Sri Lanka navy has been arresting fishermen for reportedly fishing across the border and for those who had been detained a second time, they faced longer prison terms. The protestors claimed that in the last 10 years, over 3,500 fishermen from Tamil Nadu had been arrested by the Sri Lankan navy.

The protestors alleged that even though Sri Lankan courts eventually released the fisherfolk, they refused to hand over the impounded boats. This he claims has been a cause of distress since the fishermen borrow heavy loans to purchase the boats. 

Last week, the St. Antony’s church festival at Katchatheevu saw a decline in the number of devotees after fishermen from Tamil Nadu protested saying that they would not attend and neither would they ferry anyone who wished to from South India. 

“Every year, we look forward to attending the feast with our fellow brothers and sisters from Sri Lanka in the spirit of friendship and harmony. But this year, we were forced to cancel it,” said P. Jesu Raja, president of the Rameswaram Mechanized Trawlers’ Union in Tamil Nadu in an article published on UCAnews. 

“We cannot accept putting fishermen in jail for engaging in fishing,” Raja told UCA News.

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