Tamil Nadu fishermen have accused their Andhra Pradesh counterparts of abducting them and seizing their boats in the Bay of Bengal north of Tamil Nadu.
At least 30 fishermen from Chennai, Nagapattinam and Tiruvallur districts were allegedly abducted and assaulted by Andhra fishermen on July 6 and 7, they claimed.
“This is the first time something like this is happening,” K Ananthavelu, a representative of fishermen from the Akkaraippettai fishing hamlet of Nagapattinam district, said. “When a team of 19 fishermen from Thiruvallur, Chennai and Nagapattinam were fishing with their two mechanised boats in the sea near Chennpalayam coastal village of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh last Saturday, the AP fishermen surrounded them. They attacked them and seized the two mechanised boats. They repeated the same on Sunday – apprehending another mechanised boat and 11 fishermen.”
“We have informed State government and our officials have contacted Nellore district administration. After this thirty fishermen have been rescued from Chennapalayam on Monday. They are undergoing treatment in Rajiv Gandhi government hospital at Chennai since Wednesday,” Ananthavelu said.
He said the Tamil Nadu fishermen moved to the northern part of Bay of Bengal to escape from the Sri Lankan navy, which has in the past attacked Tamil Nadu fishermen and seized their boats in the southern part of the Bay of Bengal
“But now Andhra Pradesh fishermen have started to treat us as aliens. They demanded huge money after abducting our boats and men,” he said.
Andhra fishermen, for their part, accused the TN fishermen of using banned high-speed engines in their boats and destroying their marine resources.
“We are keen to protect our marine resources and are very aware of it. The TN fishermen are using Chinese-made, banned high-speed engines with 600 HP efficiency in their boats. We use just 200 to 300 HP engines. Due to the movement of high-speed engine boats of TN within 12 nautical miles of the coast near AP, our marine resources are facing a threat. This is destroying our livelihoods. Possibly because of this, some angry fishermen from our side could have indulged in such unwanted activities,” said S Shivaji, former general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Fishers Association (APFA).
Ananthavelu dismissed it as a baseless allegation. “Our fishermen go up to Gujarat and are not attacked there. In fact, AP fishermen come up till Puducherry and still attack us.”
K Bharathi, president of the South Indian Fishermen Association (SIFA), based in Chennai, said there have been some issues in regulating fishing in TN.
“We have spoken with both the representatives of both sides. We have found that a few fishermen from TN side are indeed using banned engines. TN fisheries department should regulate the fishing activities. The union government must intervene in this issue,” said Bharathi.
Reena Selvin, joint director of the Fisheries Department in the Central Zone of TN, said: “Tamil Nadu fisheries department is in talks with the AP government. Soon we will sort out this issue. Also, as a measure to avoid Chinese-made high-speed engines, we are checking the mechanised boats while giving tokens for sailing into the sea.”