Tamil Nadu fisherman dies in custody
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 March 2000, 12:42 GMT]
A Tamil Nadu fisherman arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) last month near Kachchathivu died in custody today. Ms. Maheswary Velayutham, a human rights lawyer who went to see his body at the government hospital in Colombo today charged that he died due to neglect of the injuries sustained when SLN personnel assaulted him during arrest in the high seas.
The fisherman , Velsamy Rajah, 38, was taken into custody by the SLN near Kachchathivu on February 19 this year for fishing in Sri Lankan waters. He was produced before the Mannar courts and was then sent to the remand prison at Welikada in Colombo.
Velsamy was later transferred to the Police special detention camp in Mirihana where he fell ill. He died after being admitted to the government hospital in Kalubowila, an outer suburb of Colombo.
Velsamy Rajah is from S.T.C Road in Vaithiyanathapuram in Madurai 10. Other prisoners in the Mirihana detention camp had got into a heated argument with the Police over Velsamy's condition last night and a fracas had ensued. The detainees went on a protest fast following this the lawyer said.
Kachchathivu is an islet in Sri Lanka's northern maritime zone close to Indian territorial waters. Tamil Nadu fishermen claim traditional fishing rights in the waters around the islet. Kachchathivu was ceded by India to Sri Lanka in 1974. Several Tamil Nadu Politicians have demanded the islet's return.