Fisheries Minster hands over Rs. 1 lakh assistance to each of the 10 families

Family members of 10 fishermen from the district, languishing in Iran prison since their arrest in December last, were overwhelmed by hope of their early release on Thursday, when the Fisheries Minister, K.A.Jayapal, handed over financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh each to them as announced by Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa.

The Chief Minister by announcing the financial assistance and taking up the issue with the Prime Minister has given the families, a ray of hope of early release of their breadwinners detained in an Iran jail. “More than the financial assistance, the Chief Minister’s intervention has given us the joy and hope of an early release of my son,” said Malaimurugan, father of M.Mayakannan in Thirupalaikudi, a fishing hamlet near here after receiving a cheque for Rs. 1 lakh given by Mr. Jayapal and Minister for Handlooms and Textiles S.Sundararaj. Tears rolled down and voice choked as J. Soosai Mary, wife of P.Jesuraj thanked the Chief Minister for the gesture.

“The CM should continue her efforts and help me get my husband back,” she pleaded. Her husband spoke to her over phone on December 20 before setting out for fishing and she has not heard from him since then, she said.

The 10 families from the district, four in Thirupalaikudi, two each in Mullimunai and Morepannai and one each in Karankadu and Rochmanagar have said in unison that they would be happy and relieved if they could talk to the detained fishermen before their release.

The plights of these fishermen families came to the fore after The Hindu carried a report “Long wait for reunion” in its edition dated June 28.

Later, the family members submitted a representation to the government on July 24, after which, Ms. Jayalalithaa wrote to the Prime Minister. In all, 16 fishermen, 10 from Ramanathapuram, five from Kanyakumari and one from Nagapattinam had gone to Saudi Arabia on contract fishing.

While fishing, they had strayed into Iranian waters and arrested in December. An Iranian court had tried and convicted them to undergo imprisonment for six months and imposed a fine of 5,750 US Dollars each (Rs. 3.45 lakh). Even after serving the term, they continued to languish in jail for want of money to pay the fine.