In the wee hours of October 27, 2022, seven fishermen from Thangachimadam village, close to Rameswaram, were detained by Sri Lankan Navy forces at Neduntheevu on allegations including poaching.
J. Bino Clinton (age 31), S. Antony Pethuru (age 24), A. Winston (age 47), P. Moses (age 48), D. Mariyan (age 29), A. Thani Selvaraj (age 25), and A. Antony Honest (23) were the names of the arrested fishermen.
They had entered the water in a mechanized boat owned by Michael Raj and were all members of Thangachimadam (48).
According to representatives of the Fisheries department, 555 fishing tokens were distributed on Wednesday, October 26, and close to 3000 fishermen went out to sea.
The arrested fishermen were taken to a Navy camp at Karai Nagar, and they were most likely going to be brought before a court for judicial custody notified the Fisheries Department,
As a form of protest against the detention of seven fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy personnel, the fishermen associations in Rameswaram have resolved to refrain from fishing until October 30. On October 29, they are supposed to hold a protest at Thangachimadam.
At an urgent gathering called by the fisherman associations at Thangachimadam nearby, a resolution was approved.
A fisherman named Mr. Jesu Raja told reporters that the Union government should act right away to secure the release of the detained fishermen.
Fishermen leader Jesu Raja condemned the arrest. “We have been repeatedly pleading with the Union government to take firm action and find a permanent solution by holding dialogue with its counterpart in Sri Lanka,” he said.
At a hastily called emergency meeting at Thangachimadam nearby, the fisherman associations approved a resolution.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Jesu Raja, a fisherman, urged the Union government to act right away and secure the release of the detained fishermen.
Also, the mechanized boats, which were impounded since 2018 till date, should be retrieved and handed over to the fishermen. He urged the Tamil Nadu government to give ₹5 lakh to the owners of the mechanized boats, which were impounded in Sri Lanka.
“Our livelihood has become a big question. Only if there is security and safety, fishing activity can happen in the Palk Bay without interruption.
Since 2018, Sri Lanka has not yet returned our vessels that were impounded. We have suffered significant losses. The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately made us stay inside.
The subsidy for diesel is insufficient. Without any overt assistance from the government, fishermen have been struggling against all obstacles. According to Mr. Jesu Raja, such arrests not only left fisherman feeling demoralised but also deterred them from going out to sea.
“After a long break, fishermen from the region had ventured into the Palk Bay for fishing…. and the Lankan Navy has arrested and impounded the mechanised boat again under false charges,” he charged.
After almost ten days, the fishermen from Rameswaram, Mandapam, and Thangachimadam had left for work after being cautioned not to fish by the officials of the Meteorology department.
They were prevented from swimming in the sea because of the windy conditions and rain that pummelling the coastal hamlets as well.