The Sri Lanka Navy yesterday distanced itself from allegations made in Tamil Nadu that unidentified persons were attacking Indian fishermen on the Palk Strait and damaging their fishing vessels and added that irate local fish workers could be brawling with poachers within the territorial waters of Sri Lanka.
“The Indian poachers come in their hundreds each night and we make every attempt to chase them away, but when this is not possible the Navy makes some arrests.
However, the Navy has never used force on the poachers but has advised them to stay away from the country’s territorial waters since it was having an adverse impact on the local fishermen.
Navy Spokesman Capt. Gayan Wickramasinghe said that clashes between the fishermen from both sides could be taking place but certainly not on our watch”.
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. K. Stalin has complained to the Central Government in New Delhi that Indian fishermen were being harassed by unidentified persons while fishing in the Palk Strait and that several others are being apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy.
In a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi Stalin has complained that 88 Indian fishermen were arrested, and 12 boats had been seized by Sri Lankan authorities in the past 28 days and expressed serious concern on the rising number of attacks on Indian fishermen by unidentified groups.
Stalin said that 88 Indian fishermen were arrested, and 12 boats were seized by the Sri Lankan authorities in the past 28 days.
“I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the alarming increase in incidents of apprehension of Tamil fishermen and their boats by the Sri Lankan authorities. This issue severely impacts the right to livelihood of these fishermen as the communities have utilised these fishing waters for generations,” Stalin said. He said there has been a significant rise in the number of arrests of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan authorities in the past few years, except during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During 2023, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 243 fishermen and seized 37 boats. However, in the past 28 days, 88 fishermen and 12 boats were apprehended in six incidents. I wish to draw your attention to the increasing instances of attacks on Tamil fishermen and damage inflicted on their boats and equipment in the seas by unidentified persons, as this has added a new layer of concern to an already precarious situation,” Stalin said.
Following this development, fishermen of Ramanathapuram and Thangachimadom areas of Tamil Nadu will hold a protest by blocking roads against the ‘regular attacks’ and arrests of Tamil Nadu fishers by Sri Lankan Navy, Indian media reported.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) yesterday walked out of the Lok Sabha after an adjournment motion given by the party to discuss the arrest of 88 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy was rejected by the Speaker.
“I had given an adjournment motion today, on behalf of the DMK and we wanted to raise the issue in the House. The Speaker is not allowing us, that is why we have walked out,” DMK MP T.R. Baalu told the media outside the House.
“Nobody has been released so far. All these fishermen; they were fishing in our territorial waters only. The Sri Lankan Navy is showing atrocious attitude and the Government of India is keeping a lukewarm position as far as this issue is concerned,” he said.