A local Sri Lankan court has set free nine Indian fishermen, who were apprehended by the Navy on June 19 after they entered Sri Lankan waters.
The fishermen from Akkaraipettai near Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu had left port in a trawler on June 16. They had completed their fishing operations and were about to return when they were intercepted by the Navy.
“The court released them on June 20. We are waiting for the weather to improve,” said V. Mahalingam, Consul General of India in Jaffna. “Their trawler is in good shape. Hence, there is no delay on that count,” he added.
Once the Navy gives its go-ahead, the process of handing over the fishermen and their trawler to the Indian Coast Guard that patrols the International Maritime Boundary Line will commence. On most occasions, the transfer has been smooth, because India and Sri Lanka are signatories to an agreement that assures repatriation of fishermen who stray across the border.
There are eight more Tamil Nadu fishermen in a Jaffna jail, hoping to head home. All of them have been implicated – in two separate cases – of smuggling drugs. A bail petition for a group of five fishermen that came up for hearing recently was dismissed. The Indian government is working on securing their release.