Indian fishermen drop bridge protest

Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Rameswaram fishermen, who have been on an indefinite strike to secure their boats impounded in Sri Lanka, dropped their plan to lay siege to the Pamban bridge following appeals from officials, The Hindu newspaper reported. Leaders of 11 fishermen associations called off the agitation as revenue and police officials pointed out that it would cause inconvenience to pilgrims and tourists visiting the island, and a Sri Lankan delegation, led by the Fisheries Minister, would visit New Delhi later this month for talks with the Indian Government. “We are desperate to get our boats back, but at the same time we do not want to disturb public peace and cause inconvenience to the people,” said P. Sesu Raja, leader of a fishermen association. Even after releasing all 94 fishermen, the Sri Lankan Government still held back 62 boats, and the fishermen were scared of putting out to sea. The fishermen had abstained from fishing for nearly a month after they launched the strike on July 24, but there were no sign of the return of the boats, Raja said. As there was no guarantee that their boats would not be impounded in the event of their arrest, the fishermen decided to continue the strike. N.J. Bose, another leader, said the fishermen had no official communication about the visit of the Sri Lankan delegation, but they expected a breakthrough at the meeting. Raja said there was no word from Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, who was championing the fishermen’s cause, for the past one week. As they were kept in the dark, a group of leaders planned to meet the Fisheries Minister and the Secretary of the Department of Fisheries in Chennai early next week.