NAGAPATTINAM: Tension gripped Nagore Pattinacheri once again in the wee hours of Thursday after fishermen from Melapattinacheri allegedly set fire to a fibreglass motorised boat berthed at Pattinacheri fish landing centre.
According to sources, the boat belonged to Viji, a fisherman from Keelapattinacheri. The boat, along with fishing nets and cold storage box, were set ablaze. Residents of Keelapattinacheri tried to douse the fire, but the boat burst into flames.
Tension prevailed as hundreds of fishermen from Keelapattinacheri gathered at the landing centre. They blamed the residents of Melapattinacheri with whom they have been at loggerheads for the past two months owing to dispute over auction at Pattinacheri fish landing centre.
Sakthimani, a fisherman from Keelapattinacheri, said, "The police should take strict action against those who torched our fishing boat to prevent a law and order situation in the village." Following road block and violence that broke out between the two sides on Tuesday night, Keelapattinacheri residents allegedly vandalised properties at Melapattinacheri. Nagore Pattinacheri is comprised of two hamlets - Keelapattinacheri and Melapattinacheri.
Fishermen of Keelapattinacheri have been holding monopoly over the sardine fish trade at the auction hall in the local fish landing centre, sources said. Thus, they restricted traders from buying the catch from Melapattinacheri fishers. On June 15, Melapattinacheri fishers protested, and sought the intervention of the district administration.
Later, on June 18, fisherfolk from Keelapattinacheri allegedly vandalised the boat engines and nets of at least seven fishers from Melapattinacheri. It was then decided to constitute a committee, which included fisherfolk from the hamlets and administration officials, to mediate and resolve the issue.
Commenting on the conflict, a Fisheries Department official said, "We will be installing CCTV cameras to bring the fish landing centre under surveillance and thereby prevent such incidents in the future."