Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayapal handed over Rs. 1 lakh each to relatives of the incarcerated fishermen on Thursday

The disbursal of money as financial aid to the family members of 10 fishermen from the district languishing in an Iranian prison since December last year has raised hopes of their early release.

Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayapal handed Rs. 1 lakh each to relatives of the incarcerated fishermen on Thursday, fuelling hopes of an early resolution of the crisis.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s announcement of financial aid to the families and her pledge to take the matter up with the Prime Minister have left them feeling optimistic."More than the financial assistance, the Chief Minister’s intervention has given us the joy and hope of an early release of my son," said Malaimurugan, father of M.Mayakannan in Thirupalaikudi, a fishing village.

J. Soosai Mary, wife of P.Jesuraj, could not hold back her tears as she thanked the Chief Minister for the gesture. "The CM should continue her efforts and help me get my husband back," she said.

Her husband spoke to her over phone on December 20 before setting out for fishing and she has not heard from him since then, she added.

The 10 families hailing from the district, four from Thirupalaikudi, two each from Mullimunai and Morepannai and one each from Karankadu and Rochmanagar, reiterated their request to establish telephone contact with the detainees.

The plight of these fisher families came to the fore after The Hindu carried a report “Long wait for reunion” in its edition dated June 28.

Later, the family members submitted a representation to the government on July 24, following which Ms. Jayalalithaa wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to take up the issue with Iran and secure their immediate release.

In all, 16 fishermen, 10 from Ramanathapuram, five from Kanyakumari and one from Nagapattinam had headed for Saudi Arabia on contract fishing before straying into Iranian waters.

Following their arrest, an Iranian court tried and convicted them to undergo imprisonment for six months and imposed a fine of 5,750 US Dollars each (Rs. 3.45 lakh).

They were held beyond their jail term by Iranian authorities for failing to pay the fine.

Fisheries Director C. Munianathan said the government was making serious efforts through diplomatic channels to secure the fishermen’s release.

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