Arrival of one batch was delayed by glitches their boats faced

In a protracted process lasting for over many hours, 182 fishermen, released from Sri Lankan prisons, and their 30 boats finally landed here on Saturday.

Beginning in the early hours of Saturday, men and their boats started arriving in two batches, ending their arrival at about 9 p.m on Saturday night.

The first set of 71 fishermen arrived here past midnight, led by Indian Coast Guard Ship Samudra Paheredar, which had taken custody of the men and their 15 boats on Friday noon.

Their arrival was delayed due to a series of technical glitches, compounded by the straying of a few boats out of the charted path of the India Coast Guard Ship Samudra Paheredar.

The first batch of 71 fishermen included 51 from Pudukottai, 19 Ramanathapuram (13 from Rameshwaram and 6 from Mandapam) and 1 from Karaikal. However, the second batch of 111 Nagapattinam fishermen, slated to arrive on Saturday and Sunday, arrived by 9 p.m.

The batch of men and their 15 boats was brought by ICGS Vigraha.

They were received by Minister for Fisheries K.A. Jayapal, in the presence of Collector T.Munusamy and Coast Guard Commandant Udhal Singh.

Early on, ICGS Samudra Paheredar was compelled to tow eight boats that were not functional, delaying the speed of the ship by several knots, Commandant Singh told The Hindu.

Three fishermen were taken to the Government Hospital on arrival after two of them complained of fever and one from Karaikal of a cardiac condition. The Karaikal-based fisherman Ponnusamy missed the ship last week after he was admitted for chest pain to a hospital in Jaffna.

The other two are from Mandapam and Nagapattinam.

Doubts persisted over the arrival of the second ship and the immigration of the fishermen, as the private port had security concerns of getting clearances after 10 p.m.

However, the process was expedited for the men to reach on the eve of the Republic Day, Mr. Jayapal told The Hindu on the sidelines.

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