Fisherfolk Set to Intensify Protests

Fisherman - Indian protestFamily members of the five fishermen sentenced to death in Sri Lanka and leaders of fishermen association from Thankatchimadam left for Chennai on Sunday to meet Chief Minister O Panneer Selvam.

The five fishermen Augustus, Emerson, Longlet, Wilson and Prasath, were arrested by Lankan Navy in November 2011, along with three Lankan fishermen, for allegedly smuggling drugs and lodged in the Velikadai prison. The case was heard in a Colombo court which recently awarded death penalty to all the eight fishermen. The judgment resulted in violence in Thankatchimadam on October 30.

Speaking to Express before leaving for Chennai, Scenita, wife of Prasath, urged the Centre to take steps to secure the release of all the five fishermen, failing which they would be forced to stage demonstrations outside Sri Lankan parliament seeking mercy from the Lankan government. Emerson’s brother Gladwin said the team would request the CM to arrange for a meeting with the PM so that he could be informed of their plight.

Meanwhile, fishermen in five coastal districts announced an indefinite stir on Sunday in a show of solidarity with the convicted, and warned that the protest would be intensified if the fishermen were not released before November 6.

Further, the fishermen from five coastal districts including Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Pudukkottai resolved to continue with their stir till all the convicted fishermen returned to their hamlets. They also urged the Central and State governments to expedite diplomatic and legal efforts to retrieve the 82 fishing vessels confiscated  by Sri Lankan Navy.

“We condemn the Lankan government’s unruly approach towards the fishing community of TN. If the fishermen awarded capital punishment were not released before November 6, their counterparts from the five districts mentioned above would launch an indefinite hunger strike,” said Thiruvalarshelvan. (New Indian Express)

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