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Tamil Nadu protestors demand release of fishing boats seized by the Sri Lankan Navy

Protestors staging a demonstration on the seashore of Pamban Beach, Rameswaram.

Tamil Nadu Fisherman and local trade union members staged a protest against the Sri Lankan navy for seizing the fisherman’s boats, on Friday.

The protest, which took place on Pamban beach in Rameswaram, called on the Sri Lankan navy to return the 19 boats that were seized from Tamil Nadu fisherman in 2016 and has as a result impacted the livelihoods of families of fisherman in villages across Rameswaram.

Fisherman from the villages of Pamban, Thangachimadam and Nambuthalai in Rameswaram have complained that having their boats taken has hugely impacted them and taken a huge economic burden on them and their families.

They condemned the Indian government’s negligence in retrieving the boats from the Sri Lankan Navy and demanded a compensation of Rs. 3 million per boat – suggesting that “about 30 families depend on a single boat for their subsistence” and asserted that they would engage in further protests in Chennai if the inaction continues.

Around 200 protestors were present at the demonstration urging action, with one of the protestors highlighting “the boats that the Sri Lankan Navy seized in 2016 have still not been returned today. Furthermore in 2018, a Sri Lankan court ordered that 5 boats seized from Pamban and Nambuthalai be returned to us.”  

“It is unacceptable that the Indian government has taken no action, since the ruling two years ago, to recover the boats for the fisherman. The boats have been under Sri Lankan possession for over 4 years so even if they are recovered now it would be fit for fishing purposes,” they added.

Last month, the Sri Lankan navy attacked Tamil Nadu fishermen in the sea by throwing stones and glass bottles at them, which resulted in several fishermen being severely injured and incurring heavy losses in the form of damage to their speed-boats and other fishing equipment. The plight of Tamil Nadu fishermen’s suffering and the actions of the Sri Lankan Navy has been heavily overlooked by the Indian Government.

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