Thirty-four fishermen from Nagapattinam and Karaikal, detained in a camp for immigration law violators at Mirihina near Colombo since a court ordered release on September 3, will be repatriated on Saturday, but they would return home without their five trawlers.
The fishermen who had refused to return without their vessels are being repatriated by the Sri Lankan Navy in Kankesanthurai in Jaffna district on Saturday, according to U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF).
Confirming this, sources in the Mandapam station of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) said its vessel Rajkamal would receive 34 persons at the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) at 10 a.m. on Saturday and bring them to Mandapam anchorage around 5 p.m. Deputy Director of Fisheries Karaikal would receive the fishermen.
As the fishermen would be arriving without their boats, they would be taken home by road, the sources said.
Twenty-one fishermen from Nagapattinam and 13 from Karaikal were fishing in the high seas in five mechanised boats on July 30 when the Lankan navy from Kankesanthurai arrested them and seized their boats.
They were produced before the magistrate court in Point Pedro in Jaffna district and remanded in judicial custody.
This was the first time in seven years that the Lankan authorities were repatriating the arrested fishermen after retaining their trawlers, Mr Arulanandham said. A similar situation arose during 2005-06, when more than 70 boats were seized.
After Friday’s development, the Rameswaram fishermen called off their indefinite strike, launched on September 5 and decided to go for fishing from Saturday, Mr P.Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, said.