Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Nov 22 : The Sri Lankan Navy allegedly fired warning shots in the air to chase away Indian fishing trawlers, after attacking the boats and snapping the fishing nets at mid sea midnight, last night.
According to the fishermen, who hurriedly returned to Rameswaram fishing jetty this morning, about six Srilankan naval patrol boats intercepted a group of Indian fishing trawlers, while they were fishing near the controversial Katchatheevu Island. They fired indiscriminately in the air and pelted stones and soda bottles at the fishing boats damaging the windscreens of the engine room of atleast ten boats.
Later, the Lankan Naval personnel boarded some fishing boats and snapped the fishing nets with knives and seized GPS equipment after assaulting the crews. They also warned the fishermen and ordered them to leave the Katchatheevu zone immediately at gun point. The incident had triggered resentment among the fishing folk. Official sources said as many as 662 fishing boats had ventured into the sea for fishing from Rameswaram yesterday morning.
Katchatheevu, an uninhabited islet, was ceded to Srilanka by India in the year 1974 as a goodwill gesture and subsequently the Lankan Government declared it as a prohibited zone for fishing. Several Indian fishermen were shot dead by Srilankan navy on the charges of cross border fishing, since then. The political parties in Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, were demanding the Centre to retrieve the Island from Srilanka to restore fishing rights of Indian fishermen.