Fishermen body urges Jayalalithaa to seeks talks to end dispute

Rameswaram (TN), June 1: Condemning the arrest of seven Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy near Katchatheevu, a fishermen body here on Wednesday urged Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to seek Centre’s intervention and arrange for talks between the fishermen community of the two countries to resolve the dispute over fishing in “traditional” areas.

Referring to the arrest of the seven fishermen from this island town on Tuesday while fishing near Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka in the 1970s, mechanised boat fishermen’s association asked the Chief Minister to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jayalalithaa has yesterday written to Modi urging him totake up the matter with the highest authorities in Sri Lanka and secure the immediate release of the seven fishermen and a total of 89 boats impounded on various occasions. Speaking after a meeting of the association, its leaders TSesuraja and S Emiret said the Centre should be asked to arrange a meeting of the fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to resolve the vexed issue of fishing rights in the Palk Bay.

They also said the association members would hold a ‘rail roko’ agitation here on June 24 if the seven fishermen were not released along with 19 boats in the custody of Sri Lanka. The leaders also sought compensation for 18 boats that were sunk in the sea or damaged due to anchoring without maintenance.

If the fishermen were not allowed to fish in their traditional areas (Katchatheevu), they would be left with no other alternative except to commit suicide like distressed farmers, they said.

Alleging that fish merchants were forming cartels and procuring fish at very low price, they urged the state government to set up procurement centre to buy fish from them directly.