Fishermen of about 950 mechanised boats had kept off sea in Rameswaram on Saturday in protest against the detention of five fishermen in Sri Lanka.

Though the decision to strike work was taken immediately after the detention of eight fishermen with two boats, the protest was modified to seek the release of five others held in Sri Lanka on November 28. The detained boats, with eight fishermen, have been released from Sri Lanka and they are expected to reach Rameswaram in a couple of days.

B. Jesu Raja, Ramanathapuram district secretary of Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said that they had observed a 10-day strike and fast on three occasions to secure the release of five fishermen from Sri Lanka, who had been detained in November on smuggling charges.

They had also presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Chennai. He was confident that the government would take steps to get those detained in November released.

Members of 12 associations, who met in Rameswaram on Friday, expressed concern over the detention of fishermen of both India and Sri Lanka by the Navy of the respective countries when they were fishing in “traditional areas.”

The Sri Lankan Navy, he said, detained eight fishermen on January 3, along with their two boats, which had developed a snag in mid sea. On hearing about their release from Sri Lankan prison on Friday, they decided to resume fishing from Monday, he added.

More In: Madurai