Tamil Nadu

CM urged to ensure return of fishermen jailed in Iran, Myanmar

Families of fishermen from Kanniyakumari who are locked away in an Iranian prison have urged Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to take steps to obtain their release.

Sahana, sister of Sahaya Vijay of Pallam, one of those who were arrested when they were on a Kuwait fishing boat that had sailed into Iranian waters, said the health of nine fishermen were in a bad condition.

“They are all youngsters but their health has deteriorated over the last year. The parents of three of the men have passed away while waiting for them. We have submitted petitions to all concerned and even paid around ₹4 lakh to an advocate to bring them back,” she said. Ms. Sahana said that the families now hoped that the new government headed by Mr. Stalin would extend a helping hand to the men, who are serving a three-year term in that country.

P. Justin Antony, founder president, International Fishermen Development Trust, said the fishermen were arrested in January 2020 for trespassing into Mahshahr near oil platforms coast, Khuzestan Province. They have been imprisoned in Bushehr Jail, Iran. “The families have not spoken to the men but get WhatsApp voice messages from time to time,” he said while urging the Union and State governments to take steps to bring the men back.

In Myanmar prison

Similarly, families of fishermen who have been arrested and imprisoned in Myanmar have urged the government to obtain their early release. Ten men, including eight Tamils and two Bengalis, who were on a boat from Andaman, were arrested a month ago by the Myanmar Navy since they had entered that country’s waters while fishing.

Boat owner Sekar, who hails from Virudhunagar district, said that the men had let their longline gillnet in the sea and it had moved with the currents overnight into Myanmar waters. “They did not go there with an intent to fish but only to retrieve the net. Our country lets go fishermen from neighbouring countries when they stray into our waters. But unfortunately they don’t reciprocate it when it comes to our men,” he said. His boat and nets worth ₹80 lakh had been stranded in Myanmar along with the men.

Parthiban, brother of Jayaseelan and Raja, who hail from Paramakudi and are now in a Myanmar prison, said they wanted the fishermen to be released as soon as possible. “Till last week, we did not even know that they were arrested. We have submitted petitions to local MP and MLAs urging the government to take steps to bring them back,” he said.

Balaji, a boat owner from Kasimedu, whose boat is stuck in Myanmar, said luckily he managed to bring back his men after they had drifted into their waters when the engine broke down. “There are many instances of fishermen getting stuck in prisons in neighbouring countries due to straying into their waters. We need a system by which we can quickly bring back the men when they get stuck,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 10:28:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/families-urge-cm-to-ensure-return-of-jailed-fishermen/article34522756.ece

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