Tamil Nadu: Amid peace talks, Sri Lanka arrests 10 fishermen

Ten fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy and their trawler was also taken into custody near the disputed territory of Katchatheevu islands.

It is just a week back that the fishermen community in Rameshwaram ended their weeklong strike for the killing of 23 year old Indian fishermen, Bridjo, from Rameshwaram allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy.

After a lot of promises made by the Indian government representatives - Nirmala Sitaraman and Pon Radhakrishnan - the fishing community people ended their week long protest and conducted the last rights of Bridjo.

Today, in another shocking incident, ten fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy and their trawler was also taken into custody near the disputed territory of the Katchatheevu islands.

According to the historic agreement that was signed between the Sri Lankan and Indian government, the Indian fishermen have the right to carry their traditional fishing practices and also dry their nets in the Katchatheevu island.

The arrest of the Indian fishermen while the peace talk is underway has not gone down well among the people.

FISHING COMMUNITY MEETS SUSHMA SWARAJ

Interestingly, today the family of the 23 year-old Bridjo and few of the fishing community leaders are meeting the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to talk about their demand. The fishing community had gone on an indefinite strike and also sat on a protest in Rameshwaram after the death of the young fishermen.

They demanded that a representative of the external affairs ministry to come and give a written statement ensuring that incidents like these would never occur. Apart from this they also wanted the navy official who shot Bridjo to be arrested for murder and also be booked under the Weapons Act. Adding to this they wanted the disputed territory of the Katchatheevu islands to be brought under their territory.

It was seen back than that all the political parties in the state had shown their support. In fact, MK Stalin the working President of the DMK who visited the protesting family and the other fishermen said, "The government should take necessary action against the crisis. The DMK will stand by the fishing community."

In the Rajya Sabha too DMK MP Kanimozhi presented the fishermen's issue and also delivered an emotional speech asking the house to take the issue seriously. The state government too announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for the family of the deceased.

PROTESTS LED TO RELEASE OF FISHERMEN IN THE PAST

The continuous protest had led to the release of all the fishermen who were in the Sri Lankan custody - 82 of them - to be released. But the killing of the young fishermen led to an intense protest that the fishing community boycotted the Katchatheevu St Antony's feast festival that was held on March 11 and March 12.

"We don't know if their invite is even genuine. They arrested more than 50 fishermen in the week before the festival and had even killed a young fishermen, how will they be friendly with us while doing all this?" questioned Father Amalraj, a priest from the region.

"We ended our protest after being promised that we will be able to continue our livelihood without anymore troubles from the Sri Lankan navy, but then we now understand that all that was a false promise made just to make us stop the protests. The navy officials who killed our Bridjo is not arrested and now our fishermen are again arrested. Once the team that has gone to meet Sushma Swaraj returns we will continue our protest," said Sagayam a fishermen community leader.

The Sri Lankan navy has denied the killing of the Indian fishermen. Bridjo's was the 198th alleged fishermen death due to shooting by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Also read:

Tamil Nadu fishermen call for state-wide shutdown

Sri Lankan Navy denies shooting Tamil Nadu fisherman, promises probe: 10 developments

Indian fisherman killed in Sri Lankan Navy firing off Tamil Nadu coast