RAMANATHAPURAM : “We want Britjo to be the last fisherman to die at the hands of the Sri Lankan navy,” cries the 21-year-old’s uncle S John. Britjo Hemeles fell to a bullet allegedly fired by the Lankan navy during a mid-sea chase in the wee hours of Tuesday.
The death, seen in the backdrop of a sudden spike in the number of arrests, triggered widespread protests, bringing together fishermen in their moment of collective grief.
The fishermen congregated at Thangachimadam, the native of Britjo, and lashed out at the Lankan navy. Refusing to receive Britjo’s body until a lasting solution was found to their long-standing issue, they said, “It (denying) is not new for them.
Unlike in the past, four fellow fishermen on the same mechanised boat witnessed the incident. This time the island nation cannot get away with it,” they said. The protestors alleged that the incident took place on Indian waters.
Earlier, the family members refused to accept the State government’s relief of `5 lakh and even the intervention of ministers D Jayakumar (Fisheries) and M Manikandan (Information technology) failed to break the impasse.
Speaking to Express, S John said that Jeron, the injured fisherman, contacted B Sesuraja, a fishermen association leader, at least three times over phone. The spot could only about 9-10 nautical miles away from Rameswaram, he said. Britjo was alive after the shootout and died just before reaching the shore, he added.