Nineteen Indian fishermen – 16 from Tamil Nadu and three from Kerala – imprisoned in an Iran prison since December last have been freed after more than eight months of incarceration and they will be back home on Tuesday.
Shamsudheen Chettippadi, a social activist with Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, said the fishermen would leave Imam Khomeini
International Airport in Tehran at 7.05 am and reach Mumbai at 12 noon. “They are flying by Iran Air IR 810”, he told The Hindu over phone from Jubail quoting the Indian Embassy in Tehran.
Thanks to the efforts by the Tamil Nadu government, the Indian Embassy in Tehran and Mr Chettippadi, the Iran authorities had ordered the release of the fishermen after waiving the penalty of $5,750 imposed on each. After serving the six-month sentence, they could not be released for payment of the penalty.
“Yes, they will be flying tomorrow to Mumbai from Tehran,” Naresh Chaturvedi, First Secretary in the Indian Embassy in Tehran, told The Hindu over phone from Tehran.
Official sources said Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister K.A.Jayapal will receive the fishermen in Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon and fly with them to Chennai in the evening. He will bring 16 fishermen – 10 hailing from Ramanthapuram district, five from Kanniyakumari and one from Nagapattinam, while a representative from Kerala will receive three fishermen and take them to Kozhikode, the sources said.
The Iran authorities have ordered the release of the fishermen on September 10 after which they were moved from the prison to the Immigration office inside the prison complex. They left the prison complex for the airport on Tuesday morning, Mr Chettippadi said.
Meanwhile, S.Malaimurugan, father of M.Mayakrishnan, one of the 19 fishermen who had gone to Saudi Arabia on contract fishing from Thirupalaikudi near here, thanked the Chief Minister, the district administration and The Hindu for highlighting the plights of the fishermen families (The Hindu published a story,
“A long wait for reunion” on June 28, 2013) and Karunamurthy, a local fishermen leader for securing the release of his son and other fishermen. “My first thanks to Amma,” he told The Hindu.