By Chris Kamalendran
Indian devotees planning to attend the festive mass at the Kachchativu island off Jaffna today were obstructed by Indian fishing societies which declined to provide boats for them to travel.
This was in protest against a shooting incident which claimed the life of an Indian fisherman earlier in the week.
The Kachchativu Church parish priest, Rev. Fr. A. Jeyaranjan told the Sunday Times he was informed yesterday morning by a Rameshwaran priest that thousands of Tamil Nadu pilgrims were stranded without transport.
He said that until 5 p.m. yesterday none of the Indian boats had arrived.Usually most of the boats from India carrying pilgrims to Kachchativu arrive by 4 p.m.
Tamil Nadu fishermen societies earlier this week protested over a shooting incident claiming that the Sri Lankan Navy was involved in it. However the Navy denied any involvement, but said it would investigate the reported incident.
Despite the call for the boycott more than 5,000 Indian nationals had registered to attend the annual St Anthony’s feast in the Kachchativu Island.
Lieutenant Commander Chaminda Walakuluge said the Navy was expecting about 9,000 Sri Lankan and Indian devotees by this morning and that it was providing facilities for them. “Despite the call to boycott the feast, we believe a number of them will arrive for their traditional pilgrimage,” he said.
Sri Lankan pilgirms had started arriving in the island last afternoon.