In yet another attack, an Indian fisherman was today injured when Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly fired at some fishing boats off Kodiakarai coast, about 200 km from here, fisheries department officials said.
The 40-year-old fisherman from Karaikal in Union Territory of Puducherry, part of a group of fishermen who had put to sea from Kodiakarai in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district, was injured in the shoulder, Assistant Director of Fisheries at Nagapattinam, Gunasekaran said.
The Lankan naval men had opened fire in the air and then at the fishing boats, causing extensive damage to the boats also, the official said.
The fishermen said they were fishing in Indian waters when they were fired at. The injured fisherman has been admitted to Nagapattinam Government Hospital.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday alleged that Sri Lanka is attempting to “intimidate” India into not raising its voice against the atrocities on Tamils in that country by arresting Indian fishermen.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said: “The incidents of arrests of fishermen and the recent firing should be viewed as an indirect attempt to intimidate the government of India and browbeat it into not raising its voice against Sri Lankan atrocities on innocent Sri Lankan Tamilians in the international fora.”
The text of the letter was released to the media here. Jayalalithaa was referring to the firing by the Lankan navy at Indian fishermen on Wednesday and said it was “highly unacceptable”.
Urging that the Indian government not remain a silent spectator, Jayalalithaa said: “The Sri Lankan government should be advised to desist from using force against our innocent Indian fishermen who have been fishing in their traditional fishing areas for centuries.”
According to her, 14 Indian fishermen — 10 from Puducherry and four from Tamil Nadu — were shot at by the Lankan navy Wednesday night, injuring a fisherman.
“You are already aware that 16 fishermen of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) who were fishing in the Gulf of Mannar area were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy and are presently in judicial custody in Sri Lanka,” the chief minister said in the letter.
“Over and above that, this latest incident of firing by the Sri Lankan navy clearly indicates that the Sri Lankan navy wants to create an atmosphere of panic, fear and tension amidst the fishermen of Tamil Nadu,” Jayalaltihaa said.
Meanwhile, Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association president Emiret said such incidents recurred due to “indifference” of the central government to the fishermen’s problems.
The fishermen had lost hundreds of fishing nets and boats in such attacks and several fishermen had suffered injuries and many had died, he alleged.
On February 26, a group of fishermen from Tamil Nadu were allegedly attacked by Lankan naval men while they were fishing near Katchatheevu, an islet in the Palk Straits ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974.
Sixteen fishermen from the state were detained by Lankan Navy on Sunday, prompting Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention to secure their early release.
“I am pained to point out that the incidents of apprehension and harassment of innocent Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy have become a regular occurrence in the past few months creating a feeling of insecurity and fear among the fishermen community,” she had said.