Vande Mataram

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fishermen fished out! #tnfisherman

It is kind of regular to get in news that Fishermen of TamilNadu are getting killed by Sri Lankan Navy for crossing the IMBL. While observing the media reports on the heinous acts of killing of Indian Fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, it is disturbing that the acts have been reported not as killing but death of TN Fishermen. What is the media trying to do with a soft stand on an issue of life and death of our countrymen? Is it the Soviet bred attitude of understating the problems and exaggerating the praises? So seems the quality of job of on of the pillars of democracy. 

Article 21 of the Constitution of India states “No person shall be deprived of his life except according to the due process established by law.” The Government has a responsibility to keep this constitutional promise up as the people manning it have been sworn in, inter alia, to do this. But the Honorable Prime Minister of India is silent, as always, in this sensitive issue of the killings of our fishermen. He is also, as could not be expected otherwise, silent on the barbarian act of burning alive of a Deputy Collector in Maharashtra. He is silent on the price rise issue. He is silent on the black money mess up. Moot question is has he been sworn to the law of Omerta?

Well, the fishermen of our nation go fishing to the sea as it is their livelihood. They contribute to the economy, trade and exports, not to forget the income they generate for the national economy. Hope our economist PM understands the importance of fishermen, if this issue is looked at from the economy perspective. So, people who contribute to the economic activity, generate income for the nation, contribute to foreign currency reserves deserve to be treated with some respect. But, the Government doesn't care about their loss of lives and justify their killing by citing the killers lame duck excuses as crossing of IMBL.

Where in the world fishermen are killed for crossing IMBL except in Palk straits? Even bitter conditions exist in EU about maritime borders. Slovania and Croatia have dispute over their MBL, but they have decided not to get their general public suffer on their strategic political disputes. 

Here we don't have any maritime border disputes with Sri Lanka. Katchathivu giveaway in 1974 was a strategic blunder for escaping from Sarkaria Commission.Under the treaty agreement of 1974, Indian fishermen have rights to rich fishing grounds in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka around Kachchativu. But, those rights were not honored by Sri Lanka, and the dishonor was not taken seriously neither by the Government of India for violation of agreement nor by the Government of TamilNadu for it's people left to suffer.

On 2009, Tamil Nadu Government declared that the area is controlled by the Sri Lanka against the original pact of allowing Indian fishermen to access the water of Sri Lanka. But this declaration has not even the value of plea to the Sri Lankan Government as it has no legal/diplomatic binding. Any such declarations and talk of action should come from the Government of India to have a binding on International Relations. Tamil Nadu has 40 representatives in the Parliament just to do these kind of jobs. (But do some of those 40 know their JD?)

Between December 9-15, 2010, there was a couple of dozens of incidents having SL Navy harassing Indian Fishermen near Rameshwaram by taking their GPS devices and destroying their boat were exposed. Approximately 1.5 Crores rupees of damages including fish loss was recorded. Due to this Indian Navy arrested 14 SL Navy Officials who entered the border of India with unauthorized ships and Indian Navy Boat blew off one of its tugs which used to attack Indian Fishermen. What was done further? Nobody knows.

The vociferous media of India speaks in a feeble voice about this issue. The media network in TamilNadu controlled by the second family of DMK, which shouted in high decibels when MK was arrested, now boasts pride in reporting that the Chief Minister has written letters and sent telegrams on this issue. The content of the letters or telegrams are as secret as the talks with K'taka on the Cauvery issue. Nobody knows whether those letters/telegrams were informative or requesting consideration to do something or demanding firm action except for those who wrote and those who read.

The Indian Navy and the Sri Lankan Navy have spoken about the plight of the fishermen also, when they discussed about the security concerns post mortem the LTTE. But there was no follow up from the TN Government and the Opposition parties of TN on this matter, raising concerns with the GoI for furthering the talks to ensure safety of the shore dwellers of India. The state Government seems to be least concerned about the fishermen issue as the usually vociferous MK remains relatively silent on the plight of the fishermen.

The opposition parties try too make an election issue of this bereavement, but genuine concern for fishermen is only palpable with the netizens as they don't have any restrictions in registering their thoughts. As I've observed while commuting through the city, I've found many people who are so concerned about the fishermen inter alia other burning issues, and agree that the Government and politicians are not doing enough. They are concerned but they were unable to explain. Few of them are net savvy, so they agreed to tweet and write messages in FB. 

Those who are on the flop side of the digital divide feel that the media are not doing enough in bringing the plight of the fishermen to the notice of the public. A lady told me that the media should have given at least 25% of the hype it gave to Spectrum gate. The general feel of the public is that the grandpas of Indian politics Karunanidhi, Manmohan Singh and the likes should retire and young and energetic people with a sense of responsibility should take over. We can't expect sense of responsibility with Karuna's offspring or the Gandhi family scions.

The Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj has told that she would discuss with External affairs minister S.M. Krishna about this issue, but Krishna would be of little help, has his performance so far, to be taken into account. Jayalalitha may be of help at this juncture, but how far would depend upon the advisers she employ and entertain. Extremely critical of the Lankan Tamils and averse to their presence are Mr. Cho. Ramaswamy and the likes. If JJ takes their advise in this matter, we may simply leave her off. Dr. Subramaninan Swamy would be of help in getting the Government to act in this issue. 

Netizens should not stop by just tweeting, blogging, feed backing but still we have to make this as a movement to ensure the shore dwelling brethren lives a safe and tranquil life. Challenges of life could be natural of which we have no control, but such artificial and atrocious challenges need to be rooted out. Let our Navy and our Coast Guard act on humanitarian grounds, without political interference. Things would grow better. For that we need political will. But Karuna is busy writing his will to share the party and his fortune amongst his offspring. 

Some tweeters called for boycotting the ensuing TN assembly elections. That is not wise. Those who have grown by bogus voting and booth capturing would thrive on this opportunity with the power in hand at the state and at call at the center. 49-O is the best option, if people are not confident of any party to help in any matter. It is the life of our brethren, so it is for us to take them along and take the issue forward to a benefiting solution. 

A request: When you tweet add to your tweets. In Face Book join the Save fishermen page and express your support. Support the signature campaign to save Tamil Nadu's fishermen here.