The Sri Lankan Navy personnel arrested 24 fishermen from Rameswaram and seized five trawlers for allegedly fishing in the Lankan waters on Wednesday evening.

The arrested were among the 3,000 fishermen who had set out for fishing from Rameswaram fishing jetty near here in 755 trawlers in the morning. Fisheries Department officials, quoting Intelligence reports, said the fishermen, taken into custody by the Sri Lankan Navy, were detained in Thalaimannar. The registration numbers of the boats and the details of the arrested fishermen were not immediately known, they said.

The fishermen ran into trouble on the third day after two days of problem-free fishing in the Palk Bay in the new season which began on June 1, after the end of the 45-day ban period.

U.Arulanandham, president of Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), told The Hindu that the Sri Lankan Navy had detained the fishermen and they were likely to be handed over to the police in the island nation on Thursday.

He said he had contacted Nandhini Thimil, the government agent and a lawyer at Mannar, Sri Lanka, but she could not give the details of the fishermen or the registration numbers of the boats.

The arrest of the fishermen had come as a rude shock to the fishing community here as boat owners had spent Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.3 lakh for refurbishing each of their boats, P.Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said.

It was high time the State and Central Governments found an amicable solution to the vexatious issue, he said.

N.J.Bose, president of Rameswaram Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said the arrest clearly proved that the Tamil Nadu Government and the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre had no concern for the Rameswaram fishermen.

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