The Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen has filed a case in a Jaffna court seeking the release of five fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who have been jailed in Sri Lanka on the charges of smuggling narcotic substances.

State coordinator of the Alliance U. Arulanandam, who is pursuing the release of the fishermen on a request by the State government, said here on Monday that the case would come up for hearing on April 19.

Accusing the Sri Lankan Navy of implicating the fishermen in a false case, he said they had nothing to do with the contraband.

“They were fishing near Katchatheevu when the Sri Lankan Navy apprehended them. The five were taken to a place about 250 km away and booked in a drug smuggling case along with some local fishermen. No drug was seized from their mechanised boat…we have filed a petition seeking the immediate release of the fishermen either by dismissing the case or on bail,” he told The Hindu.

Emerson, Dilson, Augustus, Nishanthan and Langus of Thangachimadam were taken into custody along with their boat (TN10MFV822) on November 28, 2011.

“They were taken to Kankesanthurai and booked on the charges of trying to smuggle 1 kg of drugs. Three other Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen arrested in the same case told the designated court that they had never seen the Tamil Nadu fishermen before. But for the contraband purportedly seized from the fishermen, there is no other evidence to corroborate the offence.”

Financial assistance

Mr. Arulanandam said that the State government has agreed to provide financial assistance to the families of the fishermen.

“Since they have no other source of income, I wrote to the Ramanathapuram District Collector recommending monetary assistance to the families.”

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