Fishermen in Tamil Nadu called off their agitation on Monday following their meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Thangatchimadam near Rameswaram on Sunday, PTI reported. Hundreds of fishermen began their protest after a fisherman was killed allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy on March 6.
The decision was made after Sitharaman, who was accompanied by Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, met a delegation of fishermen and assured them that their demands would be met. The ministers held meetings with fishermen leaders – Struggle Committee President Arualanandam and one P Sesuraja – and assured them that no such incidents would occur in future and that measures will be taken against those behind the fisherman’s death.
“As the Narendra Modi administration is firm on following up the case with the Sri Lankan government through diplomatic means, the fisherfolk can give up their protest,” she said, adding that she had been sent to the state by the prime minister himself. “We will not leave the issue without getting justice,” The Hindu reported her as saying.
As part of their protests, the fishermen had refused to receive the body of K Britjo, who was killed in the alleged firing by Sri Lankan Navy personnel, till a minister from the Centre visited the island. Sitharaman also met the 22-year-old’s mother and urged her to make arrangements for his burial.
The agitating fishermen have also called off a hunger strike planned for Monday. The community had drawn the support of a number of political leaders after Britjo’s killing. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had urged the Centre to summon the Sri Lankan high commissioner to India and convey their “strong feelings” on the “unprovoked firing” that violated “earlier agreements on this issue”.
After matter was escalated through diplomatic channels, the Sri Lanka Navy had denied the “unsubstantiated” allegations, but agreed to initiate an inquiry. On Saturday, the country released 53 Indian fishermen who had been arrested in the recent past. This was part of efforts by both nations to quell the rising tension triggered by Britjo’s death.
The Madras High Court has called for welfare schemes to look into the grievances of Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly targeted by Sri Lanka.