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‘Trawler diplomacy’ escalates as elections near in Tamil Nadu

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 March 2011 09:26 No Comment]

Three fishermen from Valveddiththu’rai were ‘abducted’ Tuesday in the seas off Jaffna by Indian Fishermen and were handed over to Indian Police in Koadikkarai (Point Calimere), fishermen society sources in Jaffna said. The incident was reported as talks were taking place in Colombo between the delegations of fishermen from the North and the fishermen from India. Political observers said that the establishments in New Delhi, Chennai and Colombo, in strategic partnership, are effectively deploying a ‘trawler diplomacy’ to set the Eezham Tamils against Tamils of Tamil Nadu in order to achieve a set of agenda ranging from blunting the national question of Eezham Tamils and setting space for corporate exploitation of the traditional waters of Tamils to tackling electoral questions in the state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu next month.

During the talks, arranged by the Sri Lankan Fisheries ministry, allegedly to sort out the problems relating to Indian fishermen trespassing into the territorial waters of the island, the Indian fishermen have demanded that they be allowed to fish for three days in a week in the territorial waters of the island arguing that the quantity of fish in their territory has dwindled.

SL Minister Rajitha Senaratne in charge of the subject has met the delegation from the North before they were engaged in talks with their counterparts from India.

Fishermen from Valveddiththu’rai and other areas in the north who had been deprived of the full extent of their catch due to the illegal trespassing by the Indian fishermen into their territorial waters were told to refuse acceding the requests by the Indian fishermen, informed sources in Colombo said.

Officials from Indian High Commission in Colombo were also present in the talks between six representatives of Indian fishermen and six representatives of fishermen from North.

Northern fishermen who were affected by SL restrictions during the three decades of war say they continue to suffer as the big Indian trawlers engage in poaching while the occupying Sri Lankan navy was silently standing by. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had earlier successfully contained poaching while maintaining good relations with the fishermen from Tamil Nadu, they say.

"Around 125,000 local fisher-folk and their families risk losing their livelihoods and their daily earnings. Around Indian 2,000 trawlers poach here three days per week. This means that local fishermen lose 50% of our fishing time, which equals a loss of 50% of production and income", said Dr. A. S. Soosai Anandan, Senior Lecturer of the Jaffna University and a fisheries expert of in-depth community experience, cited by The Island.

Nadarasasuntharam Senthooran, Pathmanathan Pathmaraj both aged 24 and Paramasuntharam Kesavarooban from Valveddiththu’rai who went in the same boat for fishing Tuesday morning did not return that evening as usual.

However, they have managed to contact from Koadikkarai their relatives in VVT to convey that they had been forcefully taken away by the Indian fishermen and had been handed over to the Indian Police, who assured them that they would be released after three days.

In contrary, other reports state that the three VVT fishermen were arrested by the Indian Navy personnel on patrol and were handed over to the Indian fishermen who in turn took them to the Indian Police.

Media that have ‘genetic’ animosity on either side of the waters towards the national liberation of Eezham Tamils are actively behind the establishments in strategic alliance, in creating a situation desired by the establishments, political observers said.

Without contributing anything positive towards the struggle of Eezham Tamils and in fact operating viciously against it, the establishments in India, expecting ‘concessions’ infringing into the sovereignty of the nation of Eezham Tamils and in the process depriving the vast majority of non-trawler owning fisher folk on either side of the Palk Straight is a point to be noted, the political observers further said.

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