Coast Guard vessel, patrolling near the IMBL, to receive them

The Kayts Court in Sri Lanka ordered the release of the second batch of 25 fishermen from Rameswaram on Wednesday, a day after the Mannar District Court in the island nation released 24 fishermen.

Now, the fishermen in the temple town are eagerly awaiting the release of the remaining eight of their colleagues languishing in the Lankan prisons — a total of 57 had been arrested by the Lankan authorities.

The eight have been remanded in judicial custody till July 11.

H.H.More, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Station Commander, Mandapam, said the released fishermen would be repatriated on Thursday.

A Coast Guard vessel, patrolling near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), would receive them from the Lankan Navy in the morning and bring them to the shore in the evening, he told The Hindu.

“We thank all those who helped the fishing community to secure their release,” N.J.Bose, president of Rameswaram Port Mechanised Boats Fishermen Association, and P.Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Fishermen Association, said. There was a positive posture from the Lankan government and the fishing community thanked it for that, Mr.Raja said.


They said a five-member team of leaders of fishermen associations would leave for Delhi on Thursday to meet Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Friday during his visit to Delhi.

They would discuss with him the livelihood problems of the Indian fishermen and seek his intervention to find a solution to the vexatious issue, he said.

They said TNCC president B.S.Gnanadesikan, who helped secure the release of the fishermen after taking up the matter with the Central Government, got an appointment for them with Mr.Rajapaksa.

He had also offered to accompany them to meet the Lankan minister, they added.

U.Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), thanked the Tamil Nadu Government, Indian High Commission in Colombo and Sri Lankan High commission in Chennai for facilitating their early release.

The remaining fishermen would also be released soon, he told The Hindu from Negombo in Sri Lankan over telephone.

State takes credit

Meanwhile, the state said it was due to the determined efforts of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa that 49 Rameswaram fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan prisons for nearly one month were released.

Twenty four of them from Rameswaram were arrested on June 5, while they were fishing in the Palk Bay, by the Sri Lankan Navy and taken to Mannar. On the same day, 25 more were arrested and taken to Kayts Island.

The Chief Minister wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling for strong diplomatic response. Also, she also directed the State government officials to initiate measures through the Indian High Commission officials for release of the fishermen, the release said. While 24 fishermen were released on Tuesday from Anuradhapura prison, 25 others were enlarged on Wednesday from Jaffna prison. They will return to Tamil Nadu in a few days.