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Hundreds of fisherfolk today staged a rail roko at Kuzhithurai railway station on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border demanding steps to trace more than 1000 fishermen reportedly missing after they put to sea from Kanyakumari. About 5000 people, including women and children, squatted on the rail track protesting alleged failure of the Tamil Nadu government on taking steps to trace those missing following cyclone Ockhi. Protesters also blocked the Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari national highway. People from nine coastal panchayats of Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu were staging the protest. A Johan Leonard, President of an outfit, the 'Naithal Ezhuchi Peravai', spearheading the agitation, said more than 1000 fishermen, who ventured into the sea in 112 boats, are yet to come back. More concern was about those who had gone in about 150-250 roofless small fishing boats, he said. "There was no information about them." They had left Thenkaipattanam harbour in Kanyakumari district few days before cyclone Ockhi hit the coast on November 29-30, he said. Leonard alleged that the Tamil Nadu government was not doing anything to locate the missing fishermen. "The stir would continue till the state and Centre take steps to trace the missing persons," he added. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had yesterday held a review meeting with senior officials of Indian Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard on rescuing missing fishermen from the state. A government release, quoting the meeting, said most of the fishermen who could not return to shore following cyclone Ockhi have been rescued by joint efforts of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in association with the state government. The chief minister insisted that the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard should continue with coordinated search and rescue in the Arabian sea till the fishermen were rescued. Following the rail roko, railway cancelled two passenger trains between Kanayakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. It also regulated express trains including Bengaluru-Kanayakumari in view of the agitation, a railway spokesperson said. Train services have been regulated between Parassala in Kerala and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the spokesperson added.
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