They were detained by the Coast Guard for straying into Indian waters

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Court here has remanded 24 Sri Lankan fishermen, arrested by the Marine Police on Thursday after they were apprehended by the Tuticorin station of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) for illegal fishing in the Indian waters, in judicial custody till November 15.

When the Tharuvaikulam Marine Police produced them before the court here on Friday, Judicial Magistrate P. Velusamy in-charge of the CJM Court remanded them in judicial custody and ordered that they be lodged in Puzhal Central Prison.

The fishermen hailed from Puttalam district in the west coast of Sri Lanka and they were apprehended by the ICG on Wednesday for fishing 11 nautical miles inside the Indian waters southeast of Kanyakumari, according to the First Information Report (FIR).

Assistant Commandant, ICG, Robert Nelson later handed them over to the Tharuvaikulam Marine Police after seizing their four trawlers. The Marine Police registered cases under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Section 3 (a) read with 6 (a) of the Passport Rules (Entry into India), 1950 and Section 15C of the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of fishing by foreign vessels) Act, 1981. The Marine Police said there were six fishermen in each of the four fishing boats, and three boats had a total catch of about 7,000 kilogram of ‘soorai’ fish, while one had no catch. The catch was auctioned and the money was remitted to the government treasury, the police said.

U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), met the fishermen at the court complex and gave them tooth brushes, paste and soaps. He appealed to the government to withdraw the cases and release them along with their boats.

The State government should order their release as a goodwill gesture for the Lankan government to reciprocate it by releasing the Tamil Nadu fishermen incarcerated in jails in the island nation, he said. With this, the Tuticorin station of ICG had apprehended 55 Sri Lankan fishermen and seized nine of their trawlers for straying into the Indian waters. Five Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen, hailing from Negombo, were arrested on September 17 and 26 Sinhalese fishermen from Puttlam district on October 9. The 31 fishermen were lodged in Srivaikuntam jail, and their judicial custody has been extended till November 8.

More In: National | News | Tamil Nadu