NAGAPATTINAM: The coastal security group on Saturday registered a case against Indian Navy personnel for firing and injuring a Mayiladuthurai fisherman near Palk Bay on Friday. The injured fisherman, K Veeravel (35) of Vanagiri in Mayiladuthurai district, was later airlifted by the Navy to a hospital for treatment.
Nine other fishermen, who were on the boat along with Veeravel, reached Nagapattinam on Saturday. A few fishermen, who spoke to reporters after landing, said Navy personnel fired recklessly and assaulted them. “We tried to flee as we mistook the Indian Navy for Sri Lankan Navy,” the fishers said.
“It was dark and early hours. We thought that the Sri Lankan Navy was approaching us. We cut our fishing net and fled in fear. They rained bullets on us. Veeravel cried as he was shot. We raised our hands in fear. Then they caught us and assaulted us, “said P Chelladurai (46), a fisher from Vanagiri in Mayiladuthurai district.
M Suthir (30), a fisher from Kilinjalmedu in Karaikal district said, “They assaulted us for a couple of hours and asked us if we were smuggling ganja (cannabis). We denied. But they kept assaulting us.” S Selvakumar (42), another fisher from Vanagiri said, “They asked us to show our documents. They taunted us and refused to believe what we said. We claimed innocence and told them that we were fishing and not smuggling. We want action to be taken against those who assaulted and tried to kill us.”
The coastal security group has registered a case in Vedaranyam Marine Police Station under IPC sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons) and 307 (murder attempt) and 27 (1) of Arms Act 1959 based on the complaint of the fishers. The Navy handed over the fishers and the boat to the coastal security group post midnight.
The vessel is owned by one M Selvam of Karaikal. There were 10 fishers on board, including six fishermen from Mayiladuthurai district, three from the Karaikal district and one from the Nagapattinam district.
The Navy had earlier tweeted that the boat did not stop despite repeated warnings from the Navy personnel. “As per standard operating procedures, the ship fired warning shots to stop the boat. The injured person was given first aid by an Indian Navy helicopter. An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the incident,” the tweet said.
The injured fishers were admitted to Nagapattinam GH. Nagapattinam Collector A Arun Thamburaj visited the fishers and inquired about their well-being.
MP seeks apology, compensation
Madurai MP S Venkatesan has sent a letter to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking compensation from the Union government for the injured fisherman. “The Indian Navy has to apologise for the cruel attack on Tamil fishermen, and action should be initiated against the personnel. I wish to bring to your attention that the Italian Government had provided compensation of `10 crore to the families of two Kerala fishermen following a nine-year protracted legal battle. Similar benefits should be extended to Veeravel and other affected fishermen in order to boost the morale of the fishing community in Tamil Nadu,” the letter read.