Madurai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High
Court on Friday directed the Centre to expedite steps to protect
Indian fishermen from alleged attacks in the "middle sea"
between the country and Sri Lanka.
A Division Bench of Justice K N Basha and Justice M
Venugopal declined to initiate contempt proceedings against
the Union Government for not taking steps as per the earlier
direction to provide sufficient number of coast guard vessels,
supervised by Navy officials, on the International Maritime
border (IMBL) to protect fishermen.
The court directed the officials to provide proper
security to fishermen at the earliest.
On the contempt petition filed by B K Stalin, his counsel
said on September 19 fishermen from Nagapattinam had been
attacked allegedly by Lankan fishermen when they were fishing
near the IMBL. Though the complaint was lodged, Coast Guard
did not take any action.
However when the fishermen of a boat were surrounded by
Somali pirates in the Arabian sea, they had been rescued by
the Indian Navy. The Navy was biased towards Tamil Nadu
fishemen, the petitioner alleged.
The Assitant Solicitor General submitted that the Centre
was taking steps to protect the fishermen and sought some more
time to make proper arrangements.
The judges then directed the Central government to
expedite the security arrangements.
The court had on October 14 directed the Centre to deploy
within 10 days sufficient number of Coast Guard vessels to
ensure that Indian fishermen, particularly from Tamil Nadu,
are not subjected to alleged atrocities by Sri Lankan Navy.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had recently voiced concern
over frequent attacks and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen
allegedly by Lankan Navy and written to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh that it should be viewed as "an act of
provocation and aggression" against India by Colombo.