The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NEF) has urged the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take initiative for setting up an Indo-Sri Lankan Marine Disputes Authority to find a solution to the fishermen’s issue.
In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, M Ilango, general secretary of NEF, brought to notice the existence of specific authority consisting of various countries to resolve the issues related to alleged crossing of border. Russia, Japan and the Koreas are parts of such authorities, he said, and added that on these lines the Indo-Sri Lankan Marine Disputes Authority could be constituted.
Further he said that the authority should have representatives of the local government such as Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. A continuous dialogue between the fishermen of the two nations should also be considered for resolving the issues, he added.
Attacks on fishermen are on the rise. Last week 26 fishermen from Karaikal were captured by the Sri Lankan Navy and put behind bars. A fishermen from Karaikal was shot by Sri Lankan Navy on March 5. Another 56 fishermen from Ramanathapuram district were taken into custody by the Island Navy and 19 of them were remanded. The fishermen from Ramanathapuram district abstained themselves from fishing for over a week due to this. And when they ventured into the sea for fishing this week, they were being harassed. On 7 March, another 30 fishermen from Ramanathapuram district were captured and incarcerated. In total 75 fishermen were arrested within a week,Ilango said.
Lankan Navy has been attacking the fishermen from the southern districts of Tamil Nadu for quite a long time. They were beaten up, their nets and boats were damaged, their catches confiscated, many of them were arrested and incarcerated and some were shot dead, Ilango pointed out.
“There is no safety for the fishermen. How can they venture into the sea without any security?”
Around 500 fishermen lost their life. The Tamil fishermen see no reason for the Lankn Navy for continuing such behaviour even after the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, he added.