An official statement from the Sri Lankan Navy has detailed that 12 fishermen from India had been arrested in the seas south of Mannar, for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters, taking the total count of fishermen arrested over the weekend to 55. 43 Indian fishermen and six fishing trawlers were siezed in seas southeast of the Delft Island in Jaffna on Saturday.
"As part of the Navy's effort to prevent poaching by Indian fishing trawlers in Sri Lankan territorial waters, the Navy managed to take hold of 8 Indian fishing trawlers and 55 Indian fishermen during o conducted by the Northern and North Central Naval Commands on 18th and 19th December," the Navy said in a statement.
The Rameshwaram fishing port in Tamil Nadu was closed on Monday as fishermen from Rameshwaram and Mandapam staged a mass protest demanding that the government intervene in the matter.
"Indian fishermen are targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy at Katchatheevu and other areas near to the international waters. Most of these fishermen who face the brunt of attacks and stone-pelting by the Sri Lankans are fishermen from Tamil Nadu who voyages into the sea for a living. Government has to take stringent action, otherwise, things will go out of control," said M. Arogyasami, General Secretary of the Fishermen Welfare Association of Tamil Nadu to IANS.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Sunday wrote a letter to the Union External Affairs Minister S. Jayashankar demanding high-level intervention from the Central government against the Sri Lankan Navy personnel attacking Indian fishermen especially those from Tamil Nadu.
"There is real uncertainty in the area and we are going into the sea for a living. More than nineteen such incidents have taken place in and around Katchatheevu within the past year and we cannot tolerate this anymore," said K. Selvaraj, state secretary of Ramanathapuram fishermen association to IANS.
A fisherman from Katchatheevu died in an encounter with the Sri Lankan Navy in October of this year, with the Navy claiming he drowned after attempting to swim away from arrest. The surviving fishermen on the boat claimed that the Navy had attacked them unprovoked.
Currently, the latest batch of arrested fishermen were being processed according to Covid-19 protocol and the Sri Lankan government would be engaging with Indian officials on the matter the Navy statement read.