‘Protecting fishermen Centre’s duty’
By Express News Service - MADURAI
18th August 2012 07:57 AM
The Union Government has not protected the lives and properties of Tamil fishermen despite being duty bound to protect them, said A Navaneethakrishnan, Advocate-General of TN, at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday.
He said this while Justices P P S Janarthanaraja and M Vijayaraghavan heard the public interest writ petitions filed urging the State and the Centre to protect the interests of Tamil fishermen.
“The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has filed a case at the Supreme Court (now pending) and has sent several representations to the Prime Minister. In her Independence Day address also, she insisted that the Tamil fishermen should be protected from being victimised by the Sri Lankan navy,” he said while blaming the Union Government for its inaction. He also produced before the judges, a counter affidavit filed by the Additional Secretary to State Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Department, according to which there had been 167 incidents of firing or attacks on fishermen from TN by the Lankan navy from 1991 to 2011. As many as 85 fishermen have died and 180 sustained injuries due to the assault and FIRs have been filed, the counter said.
However, Additional Solicitor-General (ASG) M Ravindran denied the statements claiming that none of the attacks took place within the IMBL. “The attacks reported are due to the clash between Tamil fishermen and Sri Lankan fishermen of Tamil origin. Fishermen from TN trespass into the Lankan waters because that area has sea wealth in abundance. They further use the monofilament nets that have been banned by the Sri Lankan government. Hence, they are subjected to assault,” said the ASG. The Union Government had deputed sufficient number of naval vessels in the Indian waters to ensure safety for Indian fishermen, he further said.
Meanwhile, Advocate W Peter Ramesh Kumar said if the naval vessels had been deputed, they would not simply watch Tamil fishermen trespass into Lankan waters. The TN Chief Minister should raise the issue at the International Court of Justice, he contended.
The division bench has adjourned the hearing to September 24 at the request of the ASG, but asked him to produce details pertaining to what distance the fishermen from TN could go for fishing, and number of cases registered for attack.
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