16 TN fishermen injured in mid-sea 'attack by Lankan navy'

Sixteen fishermen from this island were injured in a mid-sea attack allegedly by Sri Lankan Naval personnel while fishing near the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) in the Palk Strait, police said.

The Lankan Naval personnel allegedly attacked the fishermen with wooden logs, stones, bottles resulting in fracture to a 25-year old fisherman and bruises and bleeding injuries to others last night, police said.

Mathiazhagan, who suffered the fracture, has been admitted to the government hospital here while several other fishermen, whose back were swollen with weals and bruises, were treated at private hospitals, they said.

Mathiazhagan said it was a 'brutal' attack by the Lankan navalmen who surrounded 25 boats of the fishermen. "They damaged the boats, snapped the fishing nets and lashed us with logs and pelted stones," he said.

A Fisheries department official described the attack as a violation of human rights. Local fishermen association leaders Sesu and Devaraj alleged the Sri Lankans, who had come in a Naval ship, intimidated and frightened the fishermen.

The two slammed the Centre for remaining 'mute spectator' to the recurring attacks on fishermen of Tamil Nadu.

Referring to the prompt action taken in recent incidents of killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast by Marines onboard Italian oil tanker and hit-and-run case allegedly involving a Singapore flagged ship, they sought to know 'why the government is silent even after 300 fishermen had been killed by the Lankan Naval men (over the recent years)'.

They also demanded that the government take steps to recover the fish catch seized by Sri Lankan navalmen and also file a case for attacking 'innocent' fishermen.

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