They had strayed into Sri Lankan waters while fishing
Disturbed by the latest arrest of 23 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in securing their immediate release.
In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms. Jayalailthaa stated that the fishermen, who accidentally strayed into Sri Lankan waters while fishing, were arrested by the island nation's navy and taken to Thalaimannar police station on Monday afternoon.
Recalling the previous incident of arrest of four fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities after their boat capsized, and thanking Dr. Singh for his role in getting them released, she said: “I wish to reiterate that the frequent incidents of arrest and detention of Tamil Nadu fishermen crossing International Maritime Boundary Line, which is very close to the shore off Rameswaram in the Palk Bay area, is worrisome. This also creates a lot of tension and unrest among fishermen in Tamil Nadu.”
On June 14, the Chief Minister had discussed the “vexatious” issue when she called on the Prime Minister in New Delhi. She also referred to the discussions with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon twice this month.
R.K. Radhakrishnan adds from Colombo:
The 23 fishermen, who were caught by the Sri Lankan Navy about six nautical miles off Tailaimannar late on Monday night, were produced before a magistrate who remanded them to judicial custody till July 1.
According to the Navy, the fishermen were well inside the Sri Lankan waters, south of Katchchatheevu, and did not resist arrest.
In Vavuniya jail
They were kept in a Mannar jail till the remand was pronounced and shifted to Vavuniya jail on Tuesday.
The Indian Consulate General in Jaffna has got in touch with the fishermen, and told them that they would work out the modalities of release. “I have enquired with them and all of them are in good health,” V. Mahalingam, Consul General, told The Hindu.
The Jaffna Consulate will be in touch with them and the authorities to complete the formalities to secure an early release.