The fishermen who had been abstaining from fishing since July 22, in protest against the continuing arrests of fishermen by the Lankan navy, staged the demonstration in front of the bus stand here, urging the Central and State governments to protect their livelihood by working out a permanent solution to the vexatious issue.
As the fishermen launched the stir and decided to step up the agitation by observing a fast from July 30 to press for their demands, the Lankan authorities have released 73 of the 77 arrested fishermen in the last couple of months, according to reports received here. The arrested fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai and Nagapattinam districts were produced before different courts in the island nation on Monday and Tuesday and set free, U. Arulanandham, president of Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), said.
Four country boat fishermen from Pamban, who were arrested on July 15, are expected to be released in a week’s time, he said, adding the released fishermen were expected to be repatriated in a couple of days after they were assembled in Jaffna.
Thanking the Lankan government for the release of fishermen, leaders of fishermen associations said they were upset that the government in the island nation had not ordered the release of more than 100 trawlers which were in its custody. They would continue the strike till the Centre secured the release of the boats and put an end to the arrest of the fishermen, they said.
“The Sri Lankan Navy arresting the Indian fishermen and releasing them after a few months has become a routine and we want to put an end to this agonising episode,” they said.