Three fishermen from Point Pedro, Jaffna were injured in a clash with Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu after an alleged cutting of fishing nets.
The fishermen from Jaffna were in boats on the 13 October and fishing in the waters of the coast Vadamarachchi where Indian fishing boats were also spotted. It had been alleged that the nets of the fishermen from Point Pedro were cut by the Indian fishing boats, often larger in size. The disagreement at sea then led to a confrontation in which the three fishermen were left injured. The injured fishermen, Theepan, Sureshkumar and Ravikumar had said that the Indian fishermen had brought items such as stones to be used to pelt them.
Earlier this week, The Federation of Jaffna District Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Union called for solidarity between Jaffna fishermen and Tamil Nadu fishermen in a letter written to the Indian Consulate. Speaking to The Hindu a representative of the society stated,
“Despite our disagreement with our brothers in Tamil Nadu, we have always been in solidarity. We have relied only on dialogue and never resorted to violence. We fear that certain political forces are instigating some groups to carry out these attacks.”
“Before this escalates, both governments must take swift and decisive action.”
Prior to the end of the armed conflict tensions across the Palk Straight were minimal and relations were cooperative and amicable, though following the end of the conflict the Sri Lankan Navy stepped up Navy patrols across the area, last year doubling them. They have deliberately clashed with Tamil Nadu fishermen leading to flaring tensions and in some cases, fishermen have been shot at and killed, leading to protests in Tamil Nadu. In recent years, fishermen from the North-East have spoken of Indian trawlers encroaching on their fishing grounds, the larger boats are known to damage the seabed and are capable of carrying a larger catch, often exhausting the fishing reserves thus making it harder for Eelam Tamil fishermen obtain a sizeable catch. The encroachment of Indian fishing boats comes despite a heavy military presence across the strait, Navy patrols were doubled last year when an Eelam Tamil refugee and his daughter managed to make it to Mannar.
TNA MP's have called for the resignation of Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda. Charles Nirmalanathan has said The leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) should resign from his post due to his inaction and that the Sri Lankan government nor the fisheries minister has taken any action on the issue which has impacted Northern fishermen for a decade. The sentiments were echoed by former Northern Provincial Council, Thurairasa Ravikaran who visited fishermen in Mullaitivu after their nets worth hundreds of thousands of rupees were reportedly destroyed by Tamil Nadu fishermen.