RAMESWARAM: The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 55 fishermen from Rameswaram, Thangachimadam and Mandapam since Saturday night. In a statement on Sunday it said 43 fishermen (from Rameswaram) were arrested on Saturday night as part of a special operation at Delft Island (Neduntheevu). "The fishermen were arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters," the statement said.
In another incident, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 12 fishermen, who set out on two mechanised boats from Mandapam early in the morning, near Katchatheevu at noon Sunday for crossing the international maritime boundary line.
Expressing concern over the arrests and demanding the Union government's intervention in releasing the Tamil Nadu fishermen and their boats, Chief Minister MK Stalin spoke to the Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar by telephone.
The Minister assured immediate action, said a State government statement. In a letter to Jaishankar, Stalin noted that 19 such incidents had occurred in 2021 alone and urged the Centre to secure the release of the 55 fishers and 73 boats in Lankan custody.
According to the State secretary of the Tamil Nadu Mechanised Boat Fishermen Welfare Association NJ Bose, nearly 3,500 fishermen from Rameswaram and Thangachimandam ventured into the sea early on Saturday and were to return on Sunday morning.
"Of them, 43 fishermen, including M Raj (33), G Mehas (19) from Thangachimadam, who were on board six mechanised boats, were arrested by the Lankan Navy at Neduntheevu around 10 pm on Saturday. They were arrested on charges of crossing the IMBL. The fishers and the six boats, that were seized, were taken to Mayilatti harbour near Jaffna," he said.
After COVID tests, the 43 fishermen, who were produced at the Jaffna Court, were remanded until December 31. Sources said that the 12 fishers, including S Michael (49) from Mandapam, J Siluvai Manicka Raja (37) from Thangachimadam, and the two boats were taken to Talaimanar.
President of All Mechanised Boats Association P Jesuraja said, "Condemning the arrests, the Rameswaram fishermen have begun an indefinite strike starting Sunday, until the fishers are released. In order to draw the attention of the State and Central governments, a demonstration will be held at Rameswaram bus stand on Monday. The fishermen wing of SDPI will stage a rail roko at Rameswaram on Monday."
Earlier, 29 fishermen from Rameswaram and Thangachimadam were arrested by the Lankan navy for allegedly crossing the IMBL on December 14 last. On March 24 this year, 20 Rameswaram fishermen were among the 54 Tamil fishermen arrested by the Lankan Navy.
DMK MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi has also written to Jaishankar seeking the fishers’ release. Dr Anbumani Ramadoss and GK Vasan and TTV Dhinakarn also condemned the arrests and urged the Centre to secure the release of the fishermen.