Opposition parties in TN also condemned the killing and sought action from the Centre. The 22-year-old fisherman was shot dead on Monday allegedly by Lankan Navy personnel while he was on a mechanised boat close to Katchatheevu.
The protesters and the bereaved family have refused to accept the body unless a Central Minister visits the spot and gives them an assurance that such incidents would not recur, Rameswaram Fishermen Association President S Emiret said.
In a letter to the Centre, Palanisamy said the SL High Commissioner to India should be summoned forthwith and “the strong feelings of the Government of India and government of TN about the unprovoked firing on fishermen and non-adherence to earlier agreements on this issue should be conveyed in no uncertain terms.”
“Lanka resorting to ‘such inhuman and barbaric tactics’ completely belies all the diplomatic efforts that have been undertaken including the understanding reached in several meetings between the two countries, including the recent one at Colombo,” Palanisamy said in the letter to PM Narendra Modi. He said at the ministerial level meeting in Colombo in January, ‘it was clearly agreed not to use force against bona fide fishermen at sea.’
“Even as action is taken on longer term issues like retrieval of Katchatheevu (islet) and on diversification to deep sea fishing, under no circumstances can the present escalation of actions by the Sri Lankan side be ignored or tolerated,” the Chief Minister said.
He urged Modi to intervene “personally in this sensitive livelihood issue of our fishermen and use all means at the command of the government of India to curb the unacceptable aggressive actions of the SL Navy in the Palk Bay, and to protect the life, limb and liberty of our innocent fishermen”.
In another statement, Palanisamy condemned the killing and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the victim’s family and Rs 1 lakh to the other fisherman, who was injured.
Kuppam residents gather at lighthouse in support of Rameswaram fishermen
Fishermen from Mylai-Nochikuppam gathered at the Lighthouse on the Marina Beach to protest the alleged shooting of K Bridjo, a 22-year-old fisherman, while they were fishing on the high seas on March 6.
Shouting slogans against the central government’s inaction over fishermen safety from Sri Lankan Navy, the fishing community demanded that steps be taken to rectify this at the earliest. Roopesh Kumar, Secretary of the Mylai-Nochikuppam fishermen’s association said that time and again, the Indian government has been letting the fishing community down.
“The Centre is saying that they are having discussions with Sri Lanka but so far, nothing fruitful has emerged. The attacks continue and now, a young fisherman has lost his life. Incidents like these make us wonder if we are a part of India, as the welfare needs of the fishing community has not been taken into consideration,” he said. The fisherman also added that the community intends to take further action.
“We will come together and start a movement to show the Indian government what the effect of our actions can have on the income generated from fisheries. Only then will the government realise our importance,” he added.
Regarding safety of the fishermen, Roopesh said, “America doesn’t spare anyone who attacks their civilians. Why is the Indian government so lackadaisical? They should ensure that the person responsible for the attack be arrested. Fishermen from Tamil Nadu should be given a gun licence and weapons to protect themselves.”
K Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said the Indian government’s inaction has led to increasing attacks on the fishermen. “The Indian government has never reacted to these attacks. Hence these incidents continue and we suffer. An unarmed innocent man was shot dead by the Sri Lankan navy. More than 85 fishermen have been detained by Sri Lankan navy. Despite all this, the government is not heeding to the travails of the fishing community,” he concluded.
Stalin calls for diplomatic action by govt
Condemning the fatal shooting of Indian fishermen allegedly by Lankan Navy, DMK working president and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin on Tuesday called for diplomatic action from union government on the issue.
“Centre should publicly caution Sri Lanka either through consular channels or by summoning its envoy to India, that killing of Indian fishermen cannot be tolerated and that it would face the consequences if such incidents recur,” Stalin said in a statement. Stating that Lankan Navy’s gunning down of the fisherman Bridgo was in contravention with assurances given during Indo-Lankan fishermen-level meeting last year, the Leader of Opposition said the “inhumane” incident leads one to believe “if there was any meaning in calling Sri Lanka a friendly nation even after this incident.” The DMK leader, who also demanded that the next of kin of the victim be paid a relief of Rs 25 lakh, asked chief minister Edappadi K Palanisamy to send his cabinet colleagues to Delhi to exert pressure on New Delhi.