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Fishermen allege mid-sea loot by Sri Lankan gang

Counterparts attack them with iron rods and knives, steal trawler and cash worth Rs 3 lakh.

Published: 24th November 2017 02:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2017 11:14 AM   |  A+A-

So far, the Sri Lankan government has been arresting and jailing Tamil Nadu fishermen and impounding their boats. | Express Photo Service

By Express News Service

NAGAPATTINAM: Three fishermen from Nagapattinam district have alleged their Sri Lankan counterparts manhandled them, robbed their trawler and seized their catch worth `3 lakh mid-sea southeast of Kodiyakkarai in the early hours on Thursday.

Tamil Nadu fishermen venturing into the Bay of Bengal have long claimed they are victimised by Sri Lankans who rob them of their belongings and assault them. Such incidents have been reported  thrice between February and April. This time, three fishermen, Selvakumar, Moorthy and Ravi from Pattinacherry fishing hamlet near Nagore, raised the issue once again.

They set up a temporary camp at Kodiyakkarai and ventured into the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday evening on a fibreglass boat and returned on Thursday morning with allegations of robbery.

Speaking to the media, Selvakumar said, “As we were fishing southeast of Kodiyakkarai, five persons on a boat came close to us mid-sea. We thought they were fishermen and asked them to leave the area as another boat would disturb our fishing. Instead, they attacked us with iron rods, knives and stole our trawler and cash — worth about `3 lakh.”

Selvakumar added, “Fishermen are having trouble with the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard and now we are being robbed in the Bay of Bengal. The Union government should take immediate action to fix the problem.”

P Rajendra Nattar, a fishermen’s representative from Keechankuppam fishing hamlet, told Express, “The Sri Lankan Navy threatens us and now their fishermen are constantly attacking us. While a few fishermen have openly complained, others have stayed quiet as they fear being mocked. Though we are continuously seeking protection, the Union government is not responding to our pleas.”

A senior Fisheries Department official, Nagapattinam region said, “We have received the complaint from the affected fishermen. We would soon forward the matter to the External Affairs Ministry for further enquiry.”

‘Union govt must help’

Fishermen are having trouble with the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard and now we are being robbed in the Bay of Bengal. The Union government should take immediate action,” said Selvakumar, a fisherman



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