The fishermen from Mandapam and Rameswaram were picked up near Neduntheevu in the Palk Strait; taken to the Kangesanthurai police station

The Sri Lankan navy, continuing the arrest of Indian fishermen, arrested 29 fishermen from Mandapam and Rameswaram in the district and Jagadapattinam in Pudukottai district, and seized their seven trawlers in the early hours of Thursday.

The fishermen – 16 from Mandapam in four boats, five from Rameswaram in one boat and eight from Jagadapattinam in Pudukottai district in two boats — were fishing off Delft island, Katchathivu and Naina Theevu, when the Lankan navy arrested them on a charge of illegal fishing after crossing the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) into the Lankan waters, sources here said.

This was the fourth batch of fishermen to be arrested by the Lankan navy after the representatives of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan fishermen began the bilateral talks in Chennai on January 27 to find an amicable solution to the dispute over fishing in the Palk Bay.

With the arrest of 29 fishermen on Thursday, the total number of Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by the Lankan Navy in the fortnight after the commencement of bilateral talks has gone up to 116.

Lankan navy personnel from Kankesanthurai arrested the fishermen and they were taken to Kayts to be produced before the magistrate court, U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), said.

Even as the Lankan navy arrested 29 fishermen, the Lankan courts have extended the judicial remand of 87 fishermen who were arrested since January 30, till February 26, he told The Hindu.

On January 30, the Lankan navy had arrested 38 Rameswaram fishermen in six boats and 19 more fishermen – eight from Mandapam in two boats and 11 from Kottaipattinam in five boats on February 2.

The navy again arrested 30 more fishermen from Mandapam (12 in three boats) Rameswaram (eight in two boats) and Nagapattinam (10 in three boats) on February 3.

P.Sesu Raja, president of the District Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, expressed concern over the arrest.

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