Amid allegations that the fisherfolk group which met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena recently included a smuggler, the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) has demanded that the State, Central, and Sri Lankan governments probe the incident and bring to book the fake fishermen associations.
“We expect the governments to investigate and come up with a report that would absolve the traditional fishermen from the blame of being smugglers,” said M Ilango, former MLA and chairperson of NFF at a press conference.
Media reports, time and again, have pointed out that fake fishermen associations both in India and Sri Lanka were fooling both the governments. A heroin stock worth `8 crore was smuggled into Sri Lanka recently by these bogus associations in nexus with spurious forums, he alleged.
To prevent smuggling of gold and narcotics under the banner of such associations, the governments must initiate stringent action, he said, and added that such activities put a severe strain on the on-going talks.
Taking a dig at the Centre for filing an affidavit in the Madurai bench of Madras High Court, which stated that fishermen often indulged in smuggling activities after encroaching into Sri Lankan waters, Ilango said the allegations were baseless and unwarranted.
Over the last one year, there were around 36,000 instances of Indian fishermen crossing over to the other side and 185 boats confiscated and later released by Sri Lanka. Also, of the 937 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, who were arrested and later released by Lankan Navy, not even one was charged with smuggling, but only that they crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), he pointed out.
The NFF also expressed happiness over the acquittal of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case. She had initiated several measures to resolve problems faced by traditional fisher communities of Tamil Nadu, Ilango said.(Indian Express)