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'We are victims of our elder brother’s actions' - Fishermen in Tamil Eelam call for permanent solution

Tamil fisherfolk in Jaffna held a rally on Tuesday, demanding authorities take action to solve the issue of Indian trawlers encroaching on their fishing grounds as tensions continued to flare across the Palk Strait.

The protest which was organized by a collective of fishing unions began in front of the Jaffna District Secretariat on Tuesday morning where they marched to the Northern Province governor’s office and presented a letter addressed to Sri Lanka’s president Ranil Wickremesinghe. They also marched to the Indian Consulate in Jaffna where they presented a letter which is to be given to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. 

Security was beefed up around the consulate premises and only a few people were allowed through the police barricades to hand over the letter.

Tamil politicians have even faulted the Sri Lanka navy allowing in India trawlers, some reportedly carrying narcotics. In recent years, fishermen from the North-East have spoken of Indian trawlers encroaching on their fishing grounds in larger boats which 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.

In March 2022, Eelam Tamil fishermen wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M K Stalin, seeking a “progressive” solution affecting the two Tamil fisherman communities on either side of the Palk Strait.

“We are the victims of our elder brother’s actions,” read a placard in Jaffna.

Meanwhile, in Rameshwaram, family members of fishermen detained in Sri Lanka have been holding protests and fasts demanding that their loved ones be released. This resulted in the fisherfolk organizations boycotting the annual Katchatheevu festival. 

It was reported that the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Santhosh Jha had met the Chief of Staff of the President, Sagala Ratnayaka to discuss this matter. It is unclear what has transpired from this meeting, however, no decisions have been reached on the ground. 

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