NAGAPATTINAM: At least 35 Indian fishermen from Nagapattinam district were allegedly assaulted and robbed by Sri Lankan assailants in seven separate incidents near the International Maritime Boundary Line on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.
The victims were part of nine groups of fishers from Arukatuthurai, Vellapallam, Pushpavanam and Seruthur villages. According to the state fisheries department, while three groups from Arukatuthurai were on mechanised boats, two groups from Arukatuthurai, two from Vellapallam, and one each from Pushpavanam and Seruthur were using motorised boats. They were fishing in groups southeast of Point Calimere.
According to sources, suspected Sri Lankan assailants on speed boats started the attacks around Monday 5 pm. They confronted the fishermen near IMBL, attacked them with weapons, and seized nets, transceivers, GPS, mobile phones, batteries and torch lights from them. The attackers also seized the fish catch.
J Bhaskar (53) from Arukatuthurai said, “The Sri Lankans surrounded our boat in multiple speed boats. They abused us and asked us to hand over our equipment. When we hesitated, they started attacking us and snatched our equipment.”
The fishers, who returned to the shores on Tuesday morning with injuries, were rushed to hospitals for treatment. At least 15 fishers are under treatment in Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam. Cases have been registered at Vedaranyam Marine Police Station based on the victims’ complaints.
‘Incident will be brought to centre’s notice’
Nagapattinam Collector Johny Tom Varghese met the injured fishermen at Nagapattinam GH on Tuesday. TFDC chairman N Gowthaman and joint director of fisheries T Elamvazhudi also visited them. A fisheries department official said, “We have informed the Indian Coast Guard about the attacks and asked them to increase patrolling near IMBL. The investigation is underway.”
The multiple coordinated attacks have caused apprehension among delta fishers and raised tension in fishing villages. Some villages in Vedaranyam taluk have decided to strike work indefinitely. The fisherfolk representatives demanded strict action on the assailants.
Fishers’ livelihoods are at risk, says CM Stalin
MK Stalin urged the Union Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar to take necessary steps to request SL authorities to take swift and decisive action to bring the perpetrators to justice. He urged to utilize diplomatic channels to engage with the SL government and express India’s strong concern over these incidents.
“The livelihood of our fishers is tied to the oceans, and the recurring violence not only jeopardizes their lives but also hinders their ability to sustain their families and communities,” the CM said.