Northern fisheries federation issues ultimatum to Colombo before Narendra Modi’s Vesak-visit

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 May 2017, 23:00 GMT]
Just ahead of Indian PM Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to the island on International Vesak Day, the SL regime in Colombo has started to exert pressure on Tamil-speaking fishermen associations in the North to collaborate with Colombo’s ‘friendly gesture’ towards New Delhi through to back the move of releasing a section of trawlers that had been seized from intruding Indian fishermen in the past. In the meantime, the Federation of Fishing Associations in North has warned Colombo against releasing the Indian trawlers without their consent and reminded Colombo about the 6 demands that have been put forward by the associations one month ago in a direct meeting with SL Fisheries Minister. The leader of the federation was reluctant to reveal all the 6 demands, but reminded the SL State that the federation would be forced to initiate next phase of the struggle, unless Colombo failed to act.




Alam, when contacted by TamilNet after the press conference, was reluctant to reveal all the 6 demands as the demands were revolving around the diplomatic relations between Colombo and New Delhi. However, V. Subramaniam, the secretary of the federation revealed the content of the 6 demands, when contacted over the phone.

At the press conference, Mr Alam said the SL Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amarasinghe, who had earlier stood by the demands of the federation that none of the trawlers should be released without the consent of the fishermen in North, now seemed to backtrack on his earlier stand.

The fishing federation leaders were also concerned about the intruding fishermen from South, which has become a major threat in Mullaiththeevu, Mr Alam said.

“Encroachment of Sinhala fishermen is witnessed in an everyday basis. Releasing the Indian trawlers will render the local Tamil fishermen in a much more vulnerable condition,” Mr Alam said at the press conference held at Jaffna Press Club on Saturday.

“We have a close relationship with Tamil Nadu fishermen. In fact, they voice for the rights of Tamil people. We never oppose the release of Indian fishermen. We are only opposing the release of trawlers that are owned by wealthy business operators who exploit their poverty,” he said.

Northern fishermen will fully oppose in a collective manner and consider next level of the protest if Colombo went ahead with its plan of releasing the trawlers without meeting the demands that have been put forward by the federation.




The federation’s secretary V. Subramaniam and Joseph Francis, who is the district chairman of Ki’linochchi Fishermen’s association, accompanied Mr Alam at the press conference.

While the situation is being like this, a serious exploitation is taking place in Mullaiththeevu district by the intruding fishermen from South, Mr V Subramaniam, said.

“Officials of Fisheries Department are fully backing the intrusion of fishermen from South in Mullaiththeevu. Recently, President of Mullaiththeevu federation, Anthonipillai Mariyathaas, met the SL ministers and the Fisheries authorities to discuss the problem. The SL Minister promised action. But, the promise has not been honoured by the Colombo government,” Mr Subramaniam further said.



The following were the 6 demands put forward to Colombo a month ago by the federation:

The six demands were 1) a clarification of which State is going to give compensation for the losses caused by Indian trawlers 2) assurances on non-recurrence of intrusion by Indian trawler operators 3) the Indian Government should bear the expenses of transporting the trawlers back to India, 4) the fishermen being detained by SL Navy should be released either through Indian mission in Jaffna or in Colombo instead of being secretly handed over to Indian Navy in the seas, 5) appointing a committee including the representatives of Northern fishermen federation to look into the issue of releasing the seized Indian trawlers along with the representatives involved in foreign relations between New Delhi and Colombo, and 6) a direct meeting between the federation and the SL ministers of Fisheries and External Affairs.

Indian High commission officials were also trying to secure the release of the trawlers, which were ceased before year 2015, the fisheries socieity representatives said adding that the Indian agenda was about containing the controversies in Tamil Nadu.


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