The South Asian Fishermen Fraternity (SAFF) here has urged the Central government to protect the welfare of fishermen from Kanyakumari district who are engaged in their vocation in other countries.

Speaking to The Hindu, its general secretary Fr. Churchill said that more than 10,000 Indian fishermen had been engaged in fishing in the gulf countries such as Qatar, U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

Among them, 95 per cent were from Kanyakumari district. Since the territorial borders in the sea were very close in the Gulf countries, very often the fishermen were happened to cross the border.

Due to the current of the water and change in wind direction also it could also take place. It was not possible to control either the water current or wind direction, and thus it was not easy to control the operation of boats too.

Indian fishermen were innocent in nature. They never involve themselves in activities other than fishing after crossing the International Boundary Line.

In this backdrop, 22 Tamil Nadu fishermen who went for fishing from Bahrain on October 6 were arrested and detained in Qatar for crossing the international border.

The fishermen were detained in Al-Khore jail in Qatar. The fishermen were presented for persecution and charges put on them. Ten of them would be produced in the court on October 18, and 12 of them on October 22.

The legal coordinator of the association, Nizar Kochery, and a Qatar advocate, Abdullah Ansari, would be representing the fishermen on those days. On October 11, Mr. Kochery and SAFF representative Elias met the fishermen in the jail and gave them assurance.

The Central government must request Qatar to release the detained fishermen immediately.

The government of India must also authorise an organisation to meet the detained fishermen and furnish details to the embassy and protect the welfare of detained fishermen and their family members too.

It must organise orientation programmes in the Arabian countries to sensitise Indian fishermen of the various laws of the respective countries and scientific knowledge of the sea, Mr. Churchill said.

Meanwhile, founder-president of Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Trust P. Justine Antony has urged the government to take immediate steps to ensure the early release of 29 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Kerala who were detained by the Iran government on October 11 for crossing the Qatar border and entering into Iran seas due to rough weather.

According to him, he petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene in the issue and take immediate steps to release the fishermen detained at Ikkish island in Iran. In his representation to the President, Mr. Antony has stated that the Indian embassy officials in Iran met the fishermen in jail.

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