Indian poaching sparks road protests in Mannar

[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 November 2004, 07:46 GMT]
Traffic on the main artery of Mannar Island was blocked from early morning Sunday as hundreds of Tamil and Muslim fishermen piled their boats across the road to protest against large scale poaching by Indians in the waters off Pesalai and against the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) for taking no action to stop it. Hundreds of Indian fishing boats entered and fished in the sea off the Pesalai coast of the Mannar Island on Saturday night.

Demonstrations in Mannar
Road protests in Mannar
Road protests in Mannar
''We made several desperate appeals to the navy in Thalaimannar to stop the Indians from ransacking our fishing grounds. But they did nothing'' a spokesman for the protesting local fishermen told TamilNet.

''We were preparing for a big high season catch. The Indians have gone off with everything. Our families have to starve. There is little to catch in the sea now'', the spokesman said. ''The navy appears to have been reluctant to chase away the Indian fishermen for fear of creating an incident while President Kumaratunga is visiting India'', a Tamil politician in Mannar said.

The Thalaimannar-Mannar Road wad blocked at three points by fishermen from Pesalai, Kaataaspathiri and Siruthoppu, coastal villages affected most by the poaching Indian boats on Saturday night.

Kaataaspathiri is a Muslim fishing hamlet near Pesalai, 15 kilometres west of Mannar town.

The protestors said they will continue their agitation until Sri Lankan authorities take concrete action to stop the Indian poaching.

Mannar Bishop, Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, Government Agent, Mr. V. Viswalingam, head of LTTE's political division for Mannar, Mr. S. Iniyavan and Tamil National Alliance MP for Vanni, Mr. Vino Noharathalingam, went to Pesalai area Sunday morning and spoke to the protesting fishermen.

 

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