Protest over missing fishermen
[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 March 1999, 10:47 GMT]
Sinhala traders in Trincomalee observed a hartal from 12.00 till 1.30 p.m. today in protest at the North - East Governor's refusal to meet a delegation of the Sinhala Traders Association.
The delegation had wanted to meet the Governor to discuss the disappearance of 80 Sinhala fishermen, from about 20 boats, who disappeared after going fishing a few days ago, said Police sources.
The old Urban Council (UC) Market was shut down during the hartal and protesters tried to disrupt bus services.
Naval sources claim that the Sea Tigers may have destroyed the boats and abducted the fishermen.
However, a section of the Sinhala fishing community believe that Sri Lankan Naval boats could have attacked the missing fishing boats during a patrol.
According to unconfirmed reports further fishing boats belonging to the Sinhala community disappeared on Wednesday .
A delegation had tried to meet the Governor this morning to express their concern over the increase in attacks on fishing boats but they were refused permission to see him.
They decided to stage a hartal in protest and at about 12.00 noon all the gates of the market were closed down. Shop owners in the town were also asked to close down their establishments in support.
Protestors blocked roads and burnt tyres at the clock tower junction, close to the UC old market.
Police officers rushed to the scene and commenced negotiations with representatives of the Sinhala business community.
The North East Governor and the Deputy Inspector General of Police were also immediatly on the spot and quick to assure that they would take steps regarding the alleged disappearance of fishermen and boats.
Thereafter, police officials went round the town, requesting the shop owners to open their establishments.