Rajapaksa’s gesture renews fishermen’s hopes

As the fishermen were arrested on specific charges, they are likely to be freed early next week after formalities are completed

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:57 pm IST

Published - May 27, 2014 09:00 am IST - RAMESWARAM:

The fishing community and fishermen leaders are elated at reports from Sri Lanka that all 14 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who were arrested on charges of drug trafficking, will be released.

U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), quoting his sources in Colombo, said the Sri Lankan authorities were taking steps to release all 14 fishermen after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered their release, as a goodwill gesture, ahead of his visit to India to attend the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.

As the fishermen were arrested on specific charges and their cases were pending before different courts, they were likely to be freed early next week, after the court formalities were completed, he said.

“It will take four or five days to complete the procedures,” he said.

The news has come as a relief to the families of the fishermen — 11 from Rameswaram island and three from Arcottuthurai in Nagapattinam district — as getting acquittal of drug trafficking charges was not so easy, he said.

“It is virtually a rebirth for the fishermen who had been languishing in jail for the past few years,” he said.

P. Emerson, P. Augustin, R. Wilson, K. Prasad and J. Langlet of Thangachimadam, arrested on November 29, 2011, are lodged in the Vellikadai prison.

The Colombo High Court was trying their case. Chandran, Balamurugan, Mari and Jeeva from Pamban, Thangachimadam and Rameswaram were arrested on August 8, 2013. They have been lodged in the Jaffna prison, and are tried in the Kayts court.

Manohar, Saravanan and Senthil of Arcottuthurai were arrested on February 15, 2012.

They were lodged in the Jaffna prison and their cases were pending before the Mallagam court. Soosai and Alangaram from Thangachimadam were arrested on July 24, 2013. They have been imprisoned in Negombo and are tried in the Kalapatti court, Mr. Arulandham said.

Change in attitude

“After the goodwill gesture from the Sri Lankan President, the fishing folk expected a change in the attitude of the Sri Lankan Navy when the fishermen resumed fishing in June at the end of the 45-day ban,” P. Sesu Raja, mechanised boat fishermen leader, said.

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