Sri Lankan Navy arrests 20 Rameswaram fishermen on Sunday

Ending their 53-day ordeal, 34 Nagapattinam and Karaikal fishermen, who were arrested by the Lankan Navy on July 30 arrived at the Mandapam station of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to an emotional reception by the family members on Sunday morning, even as the island navy arrested 20 Rameswaram fishermen on charges of illegal fishing.

The fishermen – 20 from Nagapattinam and 14 from Karaikal – were detained at a camp for immigration law violators at Mirihina near Colombo since the Point Pedro court ordered their release on September 3.

They refused to return without their trawlers as the court ordered the seizure of their vessels and were finally repatriated by the Mandapam ICG on Sunday.

When the fatigued fishermen returned on Sunday, their families who have come from Nagapattinam and Karaikal received them with tears of joy and agony.

After the joint interrogation by the police, Intelligence Bureau and Q branch police, the fishermen left for home by road.

Coast Guard release

A ICG release said its vessel Rajkamal took over the 34 fishermen from Sri Lankan Naval ship at the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) at 12. 30 p.m. on Saturday.

As the sea was rough, the fishermen arrived at Mandapam on Saturday night and disembarked from the ship on Sunday morning.

Interacting with the fishermen, Commandant H. H. More, Station Commander, ICGS Mandapam advised them not to cross the IMBL for the sake of their own safety and welfare and also not to indulge in any kind of illegal activities.

Meanwhile, the Lankan Navy arrested 20 Rameswaram fishermen and seized their four trawlers at the wee hours of Sunday when they were fishing on the high seas, according to P.Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Costal Mechanised Boat Fishermen association.

After strike

He said after ending the two-week long strike, the fishermen ventured into the sea for fishing only on Saturday.

As many families were finding it difficult to make both ends meet, the fishermen took the risk and ventured into the sea only to get arrested by the Lankan navy, he said and appealed to the Centre to secure their release at the earliest.

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