Total number of fishermen in Sri Lankan prisons is now 314

Close on the heels of arresting 40 fishermen – 22 from the coastal villages of Pudukottai and 18 from Pamban early this week, the Sri Lankan Navy took into custody at least 26 Mandapam fishermen on Thursday, when they were fishing on the high seas south off Danushkodi.

The mechanised boat fishermen, who set out for fishing in the South sea from Mandapam along with other fishermen in about 120 trawlers, near “Anjikadal” off Danushkodi, were arrested on charges of entering the Sri Lankan waters, according to U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF).

With this, the total number of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry fishermen arrested crossed the 300-mark, he said. A total of 314 fishermen were in Lankan prisons, he added.

Mr. Arulanandham, quoting sources in Sri Lanka, confirmed the arrest of 26 fishermen and seizure of five trawlers, while an Indian Intelligence source said the Navy arrested 32 fishermen and confiscated six trawlers. However, Fisheries department sources said they had no official information about the arrest.

M.Jahir Hussain, secretary, Traditional Fishermen Association in Mandapam, said the association received details of fishermen in four boats. Vijayan and Thorth, owners of two boats - TN 09 MM 178 and TN 11 MM 257 respectively, were among those arrested, he told The Hindu.

Protest continues

Meanwhile, island fishermen with family members of recently arrested 18 Pamban fishermen organised a demonstration at the Pamban bus stop, urging the Central and State governments to take steps to secure their release at the earliest.

Mechanised fishermen from Thangachimadam and Rameswaram and Magalir Koottaamaippu (women’s federation) took part in the stir. Addressing the demonstration, organised by the Paravar Nala Peravai and led by its president A.Simon, leaders of the Mechanised and Country Boat Fishermen Associations, demanded that both India and Sri Lanka release all fishermen arrested on charges of illegal fishing and crossing the International Maritime Border Line.

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