Tamil Nadu

33 Rameswaram fishermen return

The released fishermen arrive at Rameswaram on Thursday. Photo: L. Balachandar  

As many as 33 Rameswaram fishermen, who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday and released on the orders of President Mahinda Rajapaksa two days later, returned home on Thursday evening.

The Indian Coast Guard vessel, Rajkamal, received the fishermen from the Sri Lankan Navy at the designated position on the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) around noon and handed them over to the State Fisheries department officials off the fishing jetty here around 3 pm.

After completing joint interrogation by the Police, Intelligence Bureau, Coastal Security Group, ICG and Customs, the fishermen were handed over to the Assistant Director of Fisheries and escorted to the shore.

The fishermen, though released within three days of their arrest, were upset that the Sri Lankan authorities had detained their six boats and fishing gears, including nets and other paraphernalia.

The island navy towed only one boat, which found stranded in the Sri Lankan waters with four fishermen after it developed a technical snag, while six other boats were anchored on the shores of Talaimannar on the court’s orders.

“We have mixed feelings of happiness and sadness. We were happy when the court ordered our release within three days of judicial custody, but felt sad on learning that they have detained our boats,” Arumuga Pandy, one of the fishermen, said.

Pointing out that the Talaimannar court has posted the case to July 4 to decide on the release of the boats, said Kannan, another fisherman. “Our release will be meaningful only if the boats are released and when we resume our livelihood.”

Representatives of the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen associations from the Northern Province visited them in the prison and said they would continue to face problems if they came close to the shore and disturbed their fishing activities, he said.

The Sri Lankan Navy had arrested the fishermen on charges of poaching when they had set out for fishing in the early hours of Saturday, the very first day of the new fishing season after the end of the 45-day ban period.

The arrest came as a shock to the fishing folk as they ventured into the sea with high hopes of trouble-free fishing in the backdrop of the talks held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Rajapaksa, when the latter visited New Delhi for Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.

Anguished over the development, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had, also in a strongly-worded letter to Mr. Modi, urged the Centre to take firm steps to end the agony of the State’s fishermen.

She wanted India to strongly register its disapproval of “the belligerent actions of the Sri Lankan Navy.”

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party national council member K. Muraleedharan and senior BJP leader D. Kuppuramu said they had conveyed the plight of the Tamil Nadu fishermen to party’s State unit president and Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan and urged him to take necessary steps to secure the release of the six boats and the fishing gears.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 6:44:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/33-Rameswaram-fishermen-return/article11635740.ece

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