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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2610

CPI, DMK, PMK ask Delhi to speak to Colombo on Katch issue: Arrest of Lanka fishermen no solution- DMKs

[caption id="attachment_2006" align="alignright" width="466" caption="Sri Lankan (Kandy) born DMK member from Ramanathapuram, K Shivkumar alias JK Ritheesh "]Sri Lankan (Kandy) born DMK member from Ramanathapuram, K Shivkumar alias JK Ritheesh [/caption]

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 09 July (Asiantribune.com): Tamil Nadu lawmakers cutting across party lines have voiced anger in Parliament at the reported arrest of some 20 fishermen off Katchatheevu and asked the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the issue with Colombo.

The arrest of Sri Lanka fishermen and seizure of their boats by Indian navy came in for criticism at the hands of DMK, who told the government that such actions did not solve the problem. Find out a lasting solution instead, they asked the government

Members belonging to Communist Party of India (CPI), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), said Delhi must quickly act as more than 15,000 fishermen are on a strike in Rameswaram since the arrests off Katchatheevu by Sri Lankan navy.

DMK member from Ramanathapuram, K Shivkumar alias JK Ritheesh championed the fishermen interest in the Lok Sabha while CPI’s national secretary D. Raja raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha during the zero hour.

Raja alleged that the arrested Tamil Nadu fishermen were taken to Anuradhapuram Prison. ‘Sri Lanka Navy confiscated four boats. It is not the first incident. Such incidents are taking place every now and then’, he said and that more than 100 fishermen who had set out for fishing off Katchatheevu have reportedly disappeared.

The CPI lawmaker, who drew support from the DMK, the AIADMK and the PMK benches, accused the Sri Lankan Navy with shooting the Indian fishermen indiscriminately and confiscating their boats.

‘The Government should take urgent steps to get their release and to protect the Indian fishermen. The Government will have to take certain long-term measures. It is high time that the Government of India demanded renegotiations on the Katchatheevu Island’, Raja went on to say.

‘It is not an issue of Rameshwaram or Tamil Nadu. It is an issue of entire country’, he thundered and charged the government with maintaining ‘a studied silence’.

Expectedly these remarks drew loud protests from Congress veteran, Jayanti Natarajan. She told Raja that he was ‘misleading’ the House.

In the Lok Sabha DMK’ Ritheesh brought the fishermen issue before the house. He too accused the Sri Lankan Navy with chasing Indian fishermen away from Katchatheevu.

‘Find a permanent solution to this recurring problem’, he asked the government. ‘Every time fishermen were attacked in Katchatheevu, the local community in

Rameshwaram goes on a strike. This affects their livelihood’, he remarked driving home the urgency of a lasting solution.

Highlighting the seriousness of the issue to his constituency, Ritheesh said, ‘My district Ramanathapuram has one of the highest population of fisherman. But they are unable to carry on with their fishing activities because of the cruel attacks by the Sri Lankan army who arrest them, seize their boats and also torture them’.

Referring to the latest ‘attack’ on Rameshwaram fishermen, he said ‘On the 5th of this month the Sri Lankan Navy had seized five boats and arrested 21fishermen in Rameshwaram. It has become a very serious issue in my constituency. About 50,000 fishermen have stopped their fishing activities and have started a hunger strike along with their family members’.

Saying that businessmen associated with Fisheries have also extended their support and closed their shops, the DMK member said, the problem should be sorted out immediately. ‘This is not the first incident that has happened in my constituency. Such incidents have been happening since 1983. After I became a Member of Parliament this is the third incident in my constituency’ He thanked the Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, who he said, ‘ when I brought the last incident to their knowledge they replied me and took immediate steps to get the boats and the fishermen released from the Sri Lankan Army’.

Actor turned politician also dwelt at length on the agreement between India and Sri Lanka. ‘Under the agreement, fishermen of both the countries are allowed to do fishing activities and dry their nets. Both the parties were allowed to celebrate St. Antony’s church festivals. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan Government is not respecting this agreement. I would like to request the hon. Prime Minister and the hon. Minister of External Affairs to implement the Kutch Island Agreement of 1974.

He criticized the Indian Navy for seizing Lankan boats and arresting Lanka fishermen.

‘In this context I would also like to bring to the knowledge of the House that our Indian Navy also has seized seven boats and arrested 36 Sri Lankan fishermen during this month This will not solve the problem. In this situation, I request the Government to find out a permanent solution and timely action in this regard’.

-Asian Tribune -

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