Fishermen to withdraw agitation

Fishermen agitating over the killing of a colleague allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy decided to withdraw their six-day old protest tomorrow after talks with Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Pon Radhakrishnan here today.

The breakthrough came after talks between a delegation of fishermen leaders led by Struggle Committee President Arualanandam and the two ministers at a hotel here.

Arulanandam said the Ministers have assured that the fishermen’s demands would be met following which they decided to call off their agitation by tomorrow evening after the funeral of the slain fisherman Bridgo.

The fisherman was shot dead on March 6 allegedly by the Lankan Navy personnel while fishing in a mechanised boat off Katchatheevu islet.

The fishermen have been on the protest since March 7, refusing to receive the body of the youth unless a Central Minister visits the island and gives them an assurance that such incidents would not recur.

Earlier in the day, Commerce Minister Sitharaman accompanied by Radhakrishnan, senior BJP leader from the state, visited the fishermen at nearby Thangachimadam and appealed to them and the mother of 22-year old Bridgo to end the agitation and arrange for his burial.

Later, she held talks with the fishermen leaders.

Ramanthapuram District Collector S Natarajan and other officials were present. Natarajan told reporters that the fishermen have agreed to withdraw the agitation tomorrow after the funeral of Bridgo.

Another fishermen leader P Sesuraja said the community had already given a call for a one-day fast tomorrow. After the fast, the funeral would be held and the agitation would be withdrawn, he added.

The fishermen’s decision to withdraw the stir comes two days after Sri Lanka released 53 Indian fishermen, arrested in recent past, as per a decision by the two countries to set free fishermen in each other’s custody to defuse the tension following the killing of Bridgo.

The fishermen drew support from several political leaders who visited them and expressed solidarity, demanding the Centre’s intervention in nabbing the culprits.

Chief Minister EK Palanisamy last week wrote to the Centre and urged it to summon Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India forthwith and convey to him “the strong feelings of the Government of India and government of Tamil Nadu about the ‘unprovoked’ firing on fishermen and non-adherence to earlier agreements on this issue.” (Deccan Chronicle)

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