Tamil Nadu

37 fishermen return to Tamil Nadu

Released fishermen reached Mandapam on Saturday. Photo: L. Balachandar  

Thirty-seven fishermen of Rameswaram and Mandapam, arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy recently and released on Friday, arrived here on Saturday.

While 17 of them were arrested on June 29 with three boats, >20 were arrested on July 6 with four boats for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters after crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

They were remanded in judicial custody and lodged in the Anuradhapuram prison. The magistrate court at Mannar freed them on the orders of the Sri Lankan government. But it ordered the detention of their trawlers. The court posted the case for September 5 to decide on the release of the boats, the fishermen said.

The Coast Guard vessel Rajtarang received the fishermen from the Sri Lankan Navy at a designated point on the IMBL around noon and brought them to the Mandapam station in the evening.

With this, all the 200 fishermen arrested since the new fishing season began on June 1 have been released. However, their 45 trawlers were still in Sri Lankan custody.

“We are sad we could not come back with our boats to resume our livelihood,” said Francis, 28, one of the 17 fishermen arrested on June 29. Along with boat owners, the fishermen staged a brief demonstration in front of the Mandapam station, urging the Centre to secure their boats at the earliest.

Francis and other fishermen said they suffered a lot in the prison, which lacked toilets. And the food was also bad. Before they were repatriated, officials of the Fisheries Department at Mannar warned them against crossing the IMBL.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 9:28:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/37-fishermen-return-to-tamil-nadu/article6204768.ece

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