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Day-long hunger strike for release of 68 fishermen in Sri Lankan custody

Chennai, Dec 22, 2021- Fishermen and their families from Rameshwaram, Mandapam and Jagathapattinam on Wednesday observed a one-day hunger strike at Thangachimadam to protest the detention of 68 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary.

The fishermen association leader and All Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association president P. Sesu Raja, told IANS, “This is only a token strike, if our fishermen are not back home by December 31, we would resort to a rail roko agitation from January 1. The Sri Lankan Navy had taken in possession 10 mechanised fishing boats that are our livelihoods and I appeal to the Central government to immediately take up the issue with the Sri Lankan government through diplomatic channels to secure the release of our people and their boats.”

He said that the government must ensure that the mechanised boats that are in the custody of the Sri Lankan Navy must be released. Sesu Raja said that each mechanised boat costs a minimum of Rs 30 lakhs and if the Sri Lankan Navy does not release these boats, then the fishermen will not have anything to carry on with their vocation.

Several family members of the arrested fishermen also participated in the hunger strike.

Angel Mary Mathew (46), whose son Antony Raju (23) was taken into custody by the Sri Lankan Navy, told IANS, ” Why is the Sri Lankan Navy taking our fishermen into custody. They should accompany our fishermen and tell them where exactly the International Maritime boundary is in the sea. We will go ahead with a rail roko agitation if our people are not released by December 31.”

The fishermen from Tamil Nadu were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy on December 18, 19, and 20. While 43 fishermen were detained on December 18, 12 were arrested on December 19, and 13 on December 20.

Mary Micheal, whose son-in-law is also in custody, told IANS, “The Indian authorities should immediately act for the immediate release of our men. We are running from pillar to post to overcome this ordeal. Hope wisdom prevails on the Indian government and it intervenes in the matter to get our fishermen released.”  (Agency)

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