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Fishermen in 5 coastal districts of Tamil Nadu begin indefinite fast

Fishermen in Rameswaram today ended their week-long protest over the killing of a colleague, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, while those from Tamil Nadu's five coastal districts began an indefinite fast over the issue and to press for other demands.

Over 5,000 fishermen from Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Tiruvaurur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai began the indefinite fast in front of the head post office here. (AP)

Fishermen in Rameswaram today ended their week-long protest over the killing of a colleague, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, while those from Tamil Nadu’s five coastal districts began an indefinite fast over the issue and to press for other demands. Over 5,000 fishermen from Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Tiruvaurur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai began the indefinite fast in front of the head post office here. The stir is being led by fishermen panchayat leaders of the five districts.

Mohandoss, leader of Nagapattinam Fishermen’s Panchayat told reporters that the stir was to press for their demands, including suitable compensation from both Central and state governments to the family of deceased fishermen Bridgo.

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He also sought immediate release of all Tamil fishermen from Lankan prisons and retrieval of over 140 fishing boats held by Sri Lanka.

“Our other demands include, rollback of tax on diesel in the state and formation of a separate Union ministry for fisheries welfare,” Mohandoss said, adding the stir would continue till the demands are met.

Meanwhile, Fishermen Association leaders P Sesuraja and S Emerite told reporters at Rameswaram that they support the stir of their counterparts in Nagapattinam.

They said ending the stir at Rameswaram was temporary and they would leave for Delhi on March 20 to meet Union ministers for discussions on the issue of the attacks.

The future course of action would be decided after returning the next day, the leaders said.

Earlier in the day, fishermen at Rameswaram withdrew their week-long protest after the funeral of their colleague was held here amid tight security.

The mortal remains of Bridgo was taken out in a procession and was later buried at Anthoniarpuram Catholic cemetery.

The 22-year-old fisherman was shot dead on March 6 allegedly by the Lankan Navy personnel while fishing in a mechanised boat off Katchatheevu islet.

Yesterday, the fishermen had decided to withdraw their stir after talks between a delegation of their leaders, led by Struggle Committee President Arualanandam, and Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Pon Radhakrishnan in Rameswaram.

After the meeting, Arulanandam had said the ministers have assured that their demands would be met.

The development came three days after Sri Lanka released 53 Indian fishermen, arrested in the recent past, as per a decision by the two countries to set free fishermen in each other’s custody to defuse tension following Bridgo’s killing.

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