Fishermen from Tamil Nadu’s Vedaranyam are wary of returning to the sea following a recent shooting incident in which the Indian Navy fired at a fisherman from the area.
On October 21, the Indian Navy ship on patrol in the Palk Bay near the India-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) fired shots at a fishing boat which had 10 people in board.
K. Veeravel, the 30-year-old fisherman, sustained bullet injuries on his thigh and stomach.
The Coastal Marine Police at Vedaranyam have registered a case against Indian Navy based on a complaint filed by the boat’s owner, Selvakumar.
The Indian Navy, however, said that they found a suspicious-looking boat, and even after repeated requests the boat did not stop, and hence it fired the warning shots as per Standard Operating Procedures.
The Navy immediately informed the Air Force base at Ramanathapuram and airlifted the injured fisherman to Ramanathapuram Government Hospital and later to Madurai Government Medical College.
The fishermen said that they feared that the Sri Lankan Navy was at the Palk Bay and they had cut off their nets and were retracting when they heard some inaudible messages.
After this incident many fishermen are apprehensive of going into the sea.
Sivakrishnan, a fisherman from Vedanaranyam, told IANS: ” We are afraid of going into the deep sea. Anything can happen in the sea and we have been constantly in fear of the Sri Lankan navy attacking us if we cross the International Maritime Boundary Line, but now our own Navy is attacking us and this is quite unfounded. We have decided not to go to the sea for the time being.”
The decision by the fishermen has created an unprecedented crisis in the Vedaranyam area as most of the houses are dependent on fish and without the catch, the hustle and bustle at the market are over.
Manikantan. M.K., the fishermen leader of Vedaranyam, told IANS: ” The incident of Indian Navy firing at our own fishermen is not acceptable and we demand strong action against those responsible. The fishermen will have to stop fearing and must venture out into the sea.”
Meanwhile, MDMK leader Vaiko has come out strongly against the firing incident.
He said that the Indian Navy has behaved worse than its Sri Lankan counterparts, adding that the shots were fired at the boat despite it displaying the Indian flag.