They included 13 from Mandapam in 3 boats and 8 from Rameswaram in 2 boats

As the second batch of 25 fishermen released by a Lankan court arrived here on Saturday, the immediate detention of another 21 fishermen with their five trawlers by the Sri Lankan Navy has shocked the fishing community here.

Sources in the Indian Coast Guard and Fisheries Department said the fishermen were fishing off Katchatheevu when they were arrested by the Lankan Navy from Thalaimannar on Saturday evening. The arrested fishermen included 13 from Mandapam in three boats and 8 from Rameswaram in two boats, the sources said.

They were being detained in Thalaimannar, according to reports received here. This was the fourth arrest in the new fishing season, which began on June 1 after the end of 45-day ban period. The Lankan navy had arrested the first batch of 24 fishermen on June 5 and the second batch of 25 fishermen, the very next day.

Even as the leaders were demanding their release, the Navy had arrested eight more fishermen on June 15, taking the total number to 57. While 49 of them were released after nearly month-long captivity who arrived here on Friday and Saturday, eight fishermen were still in judicial custody.

When the fishermen were hoping for their release, the Lankan Navy has arrested 21 fishermen. The fisheries department had issued fishing permits to 734 boats on Saturday, sources said adding all but five boats returned to the shore on Sunday.

Fishermen expressed shock and surprise over the arrest as it comes when their leaders were holding talks with Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who was in Delhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

“It is extremely painful that the Lankan Navy has arrested 21 more and seized their five boats, when we are holding talks with the Lankan Minister here,” said Mr P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, who was part of the five member delegation, which met Mr. Rajapaksa.

“We have sent fax messages to the Sri Lankan authorities to release the fishermen immediately,” he said over phone from Delhi.

N.J. Bose, president of the Rameswaram Port Mechanised Boats Fishermen Association said it was high time the State government prevailed upon the Centre to take up the issue with the Lankan government and find a solution.

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