Fishermen warn of rail roko on January 1 in Thangachimadam, in Rameswaram

If 68 fishermen arrested by Sri Lanka were not released, along with 10 boats, by December 31.

Fishermen have given an ultimatum for the State and Centre to take efforts to release all the 68 fishermen, along with 10 boats by December 31 failing which they have threatened to stage rail roko on January 1 at Thangachimadam, in Rameswaram.Hundreds of fishermen began a hunger strike at Thangachimadam on Wednesday morning pressing for release of fishermen from Rameswaram, Mandapam and Jagathapattinam, who were arrested on December 18, 19 and 20 along with their 10 boats, while they were fishing in high seas. Also read | India-Sri Lanka fishers’ talks may resume“We know that the fishermen would come out of the jail in Sri Lanka within two months. But we are more particular about retrieving all the 10 mechanised boats that are the basis for our livelihood,” said P. Sesuraja, president of All Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association. He said that the fishermen from Tamil Nadu had incurred huge monetary loss after several of their boats were seized by the Sri Lankan Navy. The boats, each costing around ₹30 lakh, were nationalised and were not returned. Fishermen are dependent on their boats for their livelihood and the Sri Lankan Navy has been snatching their livelihood by seizing them, he said. He said that the Chief Minister, M. K. Stalin and MPs from Tamil Nadu have drawn the attention of the Centre for immediate release of the fishermen. Also read | Narayanasamy seeks PM Modi’s intervention to secure release of Tamil Nadu fishermenAlong with the fishermen, family members of the arrested fishermen also took part in the protest. One of the women agitators, A. Esther Rani, said the Sri Lankan government should release the fishermen at once. “The children want their fathers with them. I plead with all the governments to release them immediately,” she said.Stating that fishermen community, who know no other profession, continue to venture into the sea, she said the officials should accompany the fishermen in their boats. “Only then they will know that it is not easy for the fishermen to identify the international boundary in the sea,” she said. Her son-in-law, Cilaputes (45) of Thangachimadam, is one of those arrested by the Lankan navy.

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