25 Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy

Four boats in which the fishermen sailed were also confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 14:01 IST

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Chennai: As many as 25 Indian fishermen from Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu were on Monday arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly fishing in its water after crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in Palk Strait, triggering protests by the community who blocked the Madurai-Rameswaram National Highway.

Four boats in which the fishermen sailed were also confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy and have been taken along with the fishermen to Kankesanthurai Harbour in Jaffna, the capital city of the island nation’s northern province.

The fishermen from Rameswaram, Pamban, and Thangachimadam, set out on Sunday night in four boats to fish and are believed to have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in Neduntheevu (Deft Island) inside the island nation’s territory. Neduntheevu is an island in northern Sri Lanka surrounded by shallow waters and beaches of coral chunks and sand.

This is the fifth such incident after fishermen began going to the sea in mid-June after the end of the mandatory 61-day fishing ban in the east coast of Tamil Nadu.

Representatives of fishermen associations in Rameswaram told DH that of the four boats, two were from Pamban, and one each from Rameswaram and Thangachimadam. “They have been apprehended in Neduntheevu. This has become a routine now. We fish only in our traditional waters but our people get arrested almost on a daily basis,” a fishermen association leader told DH.

Fishermen from Pamban on Monday protested against the arrest of their peers by blocking the Madurai-Rameswaram highway in Thangachimadam for about an hour. They dispersed after government authorities held discussions with them.

Arrest of Indian fishermen from Pudukkottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, and Ramanathapuram districts by the Sri Lankan Navy has been a recurring affair in the Palk Strait for the past few decades.

The fishermen cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and step into Sri Lankan waters as the fish catch is abundant on the other side. But their Tamil counterparts in Sri Lanka’s northern region say the bottom trawlers used by Indian fishermen scrap the seabed, bringing ecological destruction.

The Ministry of External Affairs maintains that the government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and welfare of Indian fishermen and that the issue of fishermen has been taken up at the highest level.

“Sri Lankan government has been requested to treat the fishermen issue as a purely humanitarian and livelihood concern, and it has been stressed that both sides should ensure that there is no use of force under any circumstances,” the ministry had said last year.

Published 01 July 2024, 14:01 IST

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