Twenty seven fishermen, who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy while they were fishing near Trincomalee on December 23, arrived at the Mandapam north fishery jetty on Saturday after they were released by the Sri Lankan authorities.

After four days of detention, the fishermen left Trincomalee on December 27. A release from the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) here said it had received the fishermen along with their four boats at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in Palk Bay at 9 am on Friday.

They were handed over to the officials of the fisheries department after questioning by the Intelligence Bureau, Coastal Security Guard, Customs and Q Branch police at the jetty.

Coast Guard Station Commander H.M. More asked the fishermen not to cross the IMBL in their own safety and not to indulge in any kind of illegal activities, the release said.

Official sources said 15 fishermen from Nagapattinam and 12 from Karaikal had set out for fishing on four boats on December 21.

Jeevanandam (48), a fisherman from Nagapattinam, said the Sri Lankan Navy arrested them on December 23 around 11 am and detained them at a Naval camp. They were produced before a court on December 24 and again on December 26.

The judge after warning the fishermen not to cross the IMBL, ordered their release, he said.

After their release, they were kept at a YMCA Hall, where Indian High Commission officials visited them and arranged for food. They left Trincomalee on the evening of December 27, he said.

Taking exception to ICG bringing the fishermen all the way to the Mandapam coast, U. Arulanandam, president of the Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), said it was totally unnecessary on the part of the Coast Guard to bring the fishermen at Mandapam.

It amounted to indirectly punishing them as they had spent about Rs. 25,000 on fuel for each of the four boats, he said.

He said had the Coast Guard taken the fishermen directly to Nagapattinam, it would have taken only 42 hrs but it took 70 hours to reach Mandapam.