The South Asian Fishermen Fraternity on Friday urged the Centre to take steps for securing the release of 85 fishermen hailing from Kanyakumari working in Gulf countries, who had been arrested and lodged in prison for straying into the territorial waters of neighbouring countries in the region.

On October 5, 22 fishermen working in Bahrain strayed into Qatar in rough weather and were arrested. Another 63 fishermen fishing in Qatar and Dubai landed in an Iranian prison for straying into that country’s waters.

Talking to reporters, Rev Fr A. Churchill, general secretary of the SAFF, said that advocates had appeared on behalf of these fishermen and wanted the Centre’s help in securing their release.

Fr. Churchill alleged though the State Government had released Rs. 50 lakh towards expenditure for conducting the cases of fishermen arrested in 2010, he had no clue on what happened to the money. “We just have the order for release of money, but we don’t know where the money had gone.”

Fr. Churchill demanded stringent action against middlemen.

They are in prison for straying into waters of neighbouring nations in the region