Tamil Nadu town tense, fishermen threaten road blockade

July 9th, 2008 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu) July 9 (IANS) There was heavy police deployment in this port town Wednesday after fishermen, protesting alleged attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy, threatened to block a major bridge as part of their ongoing indefinite strike. The fishermen claim Sri Lankan Navy personnel attacked over 1,000 of their community members during a routine fishing trip July 2. The protesters, who have been striking for the last four days, have threatened to block the Pamban road bridge that connects Rameshwaram with the Tamil Nadu mainland.

“There is some tension and we are awaiting orders to make preventive arrests if needed,” a police official said.

Supplies of fish in the region have been affected as over 3,000 boats remained moored to the jetties, seeking the Indian government’s intervention to end the violence by Sri Lanka’s navy, a charge denied by the island nation’s government.

Officials in the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai, 600 km north of here, said the charges were untrue.

“Our navy is duty-bound to safeguard northern Sri Lanka when smuggling attempts are made to help the Tamil Tiger terrorists. Our government has friendly relations with India and our defence personnel do not attack innocent Indian fishermen,” an official said.

Over 120 cases have been registered against people attempting to smuggle ordnance inputs to the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in northern Sri Lanka ever since the DMK government took over two years ago.

So far over 20 Indian fishermen have lost their lives since October last year due to firing by the Sri Lankan Navy on the Palk Straits - a narrow expanse of water that separates India and Sri Lanka.

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