Fishermen associations in the State have planned a series of protests if the Central government does not stop Sri Lanka’s move to construct a new church on Katchatheevu islet in the Palk Bay. Though the islet was handed over to Sri Lanka after an agreement, people from both India and Sri Lanka visit the annual festival of St. Antony Shrine. Fishermen from India are also allowed to dry fish and nets.
M. Ilango, chairperson, National Fishworkers’ Forum, said that fishermen who had been to the church had seen construction work there and had alerted him. “When we sought a clarification from Sri Lanka, we were told that the plan was to construct a new church there and this was being done with the blessings of the Jaffna Diocese. This cannot be allowed. If a church is coming up there, it should only be with contribution from the Indian fishermen,” he said.
Nanjil Ravi of Akhila Indiya Meenavar Sangam said all political parties in Tamil Nadu have promised to retrieve the islet and a string of islands in that area. “When a church exists there, what is the necessity for another structure? And if another one is coming up, the Sri Lankan government must have informed our government. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to look into the issue. However, there has been no reply from him,” Mr. Ravi said.
Fishermen fear an army base is coming up, he said. (The Hindu)