SL Navy says it rescued two TN fishermen from a sinking vessel that was “poaching” in Lankan waters, search on to find missing man; tensions between fishermen of two countries continue to rise
A fisherman from Kottaipattinam near Pudukottai, was reported missing, apparently after falling into the sea when his fishing boat was intercepted by a Sri Lankan Naval vessel, mid-sea, on Monday.
Two other fishermen in the boat were detained by the Sri Lankan Naval personnel for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
According to official sources, Rajkiran (30), Suganthan (23) and Arockia Xavier (32) of Kottaipattinam had ventured into the sea on Monday. When they were fishing in waters close to the IMBL near Katchatheevu, a Sri Lankan Naval patrol vessel intercepted their boat. Spotting the naval personnel, the Indian fishermen reportedly tried to escape. However, the naval personnel managed to detain Suganthan and Arockia Xavier. In the melee, Rajkiran fell in to the sea. The incident has caused anxiety among the fishermen of the region.
The Sri Lankan Navy on Tuesday however said it “rescued” two fishermen from an Indian fishing vessel that was sinking, while “poaching in Sri Lankan waters”. A search operation is underway to find another fisherman who “went missing” following the incident, a statement said.
On the incident reported on the night of Monday [October 18], the Navy said its patrol units were engaged in “chasing away” Indian fishing trawlers, while one vessel with “aggressive manoeuvres” resisted the chase, resulting in a collision with the Sri Lankan Navy craft. “In the process it ultimately descended having lost its stability as well as due to the rough sea condition,” the Navy’s statement said.
The two “rescued fishermen” were detained in Kankesanthurai, in Jaffna.
Of late, Tamil Nadu fishermen have repeatedly accused the Sri Lankan Navy of attacking them and their vessels. The Sri Lankan side has denied these allegations.
Following a similar incident reported in January this year, four Tamil Nadu fishermen Samson Darwin, 28, A. Mesiya, 30, V. Nagaraj, 52, and S. Senthil Kumar, 32, from Ramanathapuram returned dead. There has been no official word so far on the investigation into their deaths.
Tensions over the fishermen’s conflict in the Palk Strait have risen in recent weeks, with northern Sri Lankan fishermen pointing to an increase in alleged illegal fishing activity by Indian fishermen in their seas. They wrote to the Indian Consulate seeking swift action, and a section of fishermen and Tamil politicians held a sea rally on Sunday, asking Sri Lankan authorities to take legal action against those engaged in illegal fishing.