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Catholics pray for 'illegal' fisherman

Differences over fishing rights put aside to remember one of their own

  • ucanews.com reporter, Jaffna
  • Sri Lanka
  • April 12, 2011
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Heightened tensions over illegal fishing off the Jaffna Peninsula didn’t deter local Catholics yesterday from remembering one suspected illegal fisherman from India whose body was found washed ashore in Sri Lanka.

Xavier Victus had been missing since April 2 along with three other Indian fishermen, who are still listed as missing.  The Sri Lankan navy found Victus’ body on April 6 and took it to Jaffna city.

Later, a group of relatives came from India to identify the body before it was buried in the main cemetery with the help of local Catholic fishermen.

The dead fisherman’s brother Xavier Luma thanked the local people for their support and left Sri Lanka on Sunday.

But at the request of Indian fishermen, Catholics held a memorial service and funeral rights for Victus and prayed for safety of the other missing fishermen at a Mass held at St James Church in Jaffna yesterday.

“We are close to Indian people, but Indian fishermen being killed or going missing in Sri Lankan waters is causing a rift between India and Sri Lanka,” said Father Roman Nesarajah, the parish priest of St. James Church.

A series of recent spats over the deaths of illegal fishermen has soured relations between India and Sri Lanka.

Both governments have called for restraint when dealing with the issue of illegal fishing in the strait dividing the two countries.

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