25 Indian boats damaged by Sri Lankan Navy: Fishermen

At least 25 fishing boats of Indian fishermen were damaged after Sri Lankan navy personnel allegedly attacked them on Wednesday late night at Katchatheevu.

Tamil Nadu fisheries department officials said that the Sri Lankan Navy personnel hurled glass bottles and stones at the Indian fishermen. The Sri Lankan Navy personnel came in 10 patrol boats and they damaged the fishing boats, it was alleged.

Officials said that fishing nets in 40 boats were also damaged in the alleged attack by the Sri Lankan navy personnel.

Fishermen association leader N. Devadass told IANS, “This is highly deplorable and a situation has reached wherein the fishermen from the Tamil Nadu coast are not able to carry out their vocation. We have already lodged a complaint with the fisheries department of Tamil Nadu and also the local police. We need protection, otherwise, we may not be able to go out in the deep sea for fishing.”

The Indian Coast Guard officials were apprised of the development by the fishermen as also Tamil Nadu fisheries department officials on the alleged attack by a foreign Navy.

The Sri Lankan Navy has been indulging in attacks on Indian fishermen and fishing boats time and again. In an earlier attack off the coast at Dhanushkodi, several fishermen sustained injuries after the Sri Lankan Navy personnel hurled glass bottles and stones at the Indian fishermen.

Katchatheevu is a 163-acre uninhabited island administered by Sri Lanka and was a disputed territory between the two countries. In 1974, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ceded the Island to Sri Lanka under the Indo-Sri Lankan Marine agreement. The island is located between Neduntheevu, Sri Lanka, and Rameswaram, India.

The agreement allows Indian fishermen to do fishing around the island as well as gives them right to dry their nets at the island. But during the Civil war in Lanka, several difficulties were faced due to the agreement as the Sri Lankan Navy used to attack even the fishing boats as there were large scale smuggling of weapons those days.

However, after the end of the civil war and despite no more threat of smuggling of weapons, the Sri Lankan Navy, according to Indian fishermen, continues to attack Indian fishermen and damage their boats and nets causing huge financial losses.