Sri Lankan authorities have detained 32 trawlers

Sixty-six fishermen — 31 from Nagapattinam and Karaikal region and 35 from Pamban — arrested on July 30 and August 26 respectively and set free by Sri Lankan courts, arrived here on Wednesday.

Ending the long ordeal, they arrived at the fishing jetty here at 2.30 p.m. as their womenfolk and children received them with warmth and hugged them. The fishermen were anguished as they had to return without their trawlers.

The Trincomalee Court had ordered the release of 31 fishermen — 20 from Nagapattinam and 11 from Karaikal on Tuesday, while detaining their four trawlers. The court posted the case to October 17 to decide on the release of the boats.

Similarly, the Puttalam District Magistrate Court, while ordering the release of 35 Pamban fishermen on September 23, posted the case to November 18 to decide on the release of their trawlers. “We are not at all happy about our release as our boats are still not released. The boats are the only means of our livelihood,” lamented Pamban fisherman P. Athisayam (34).

He appealed to the State and Central governments to prevail upon the Lankan authorities and secure the release of their boats at the earliest. On being repatriated, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) vessel Rajtarang received the 66 fishermen from the Lankan Navy at the International Maritime Boundary Line at 10 a.m. The fishermen were handed over to the Fisheries Department officials on the high seas off Rameswaram at 2 p.m. and they reached the fishing jetty in two boats.

Still 39 fishermen were languishing in the Sri Lankan prisons.

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