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8 more TN fishermen held by Lanka; one attempts suicide

Rameswaram (TN): Eight fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on the charge of fishing in the island waters, a fisheries department official said.

One of the arrested fishermen allegedly attempted suicide today. The arrest of the eight fishermen from Nagapattinam district is the third such detention by the Lankan Navy this week. A total of 61 fishermen are now in Lankan custody.

Nagapattinam Joint Director of Fisheries Amala Xavier said the group of eight fishermen from Akkarapettai had put out to sea in a mechanised boat on March 1. The fishermen were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy around midnight yesterday, he said.

As the Lankan Naval personnel turned down the fishermen’s plea to let them go, 35-year-old Sarath allegedly broke a glass bottle in the boat and swallowed the pieces, he said. The fisherman had been admitted to a government hospital in Triconamalee in Eastern Sri Lanka, he added.

On March 2, 18 fishermen — nine from Nagapattinam district, four from Rameswaram and five from nearby Pamban — were arrested in three batches and their boats impounded by Sri Lankan Navy at different points in the Palk Bay.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the second this week, seeking his intervention to secure the release of all the arrested fishermen.

He had said the arrests of fishermen was creating a “sense of panic and unrest among” the community in the state. Palaniswami said the fishermen’s right to life and livelihood and right to carry on with fishing in the waters of the Palk Bay were “continuously being infringed upon by Sri Lanka.”

Hours after the detention of 13 fishermen on March 2, Palaniswami had written to Modi seeking his intervention. Meanwhile, fishermen in Pamban continued their strike for the second day today, demanding the release of their colleagues arrested on March 2.

PTI