Jaya's Efforts Bring 51 Fishermen Back to TN
By Express News Service | Published: 17th January 2014 07:46 AM |
The 51 fishermen from Tamil Nadu who were released from Sri Lankan prisons reached home on Thursday due to the continuous efforts taken by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. One fisherman is said to have fallen ill and has been hospitalised.
This is in reciprocation of the release of 52 Sri Lankan fishermen who were remanded in Puzhal-1 prison by the Tamil Nadu government on January 13, as part of goodwill measures by both countries ahead of the fishermen talks that are scheduled to be held in Chennai on January 20.
Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Vishwast’ which sailed with the 52 Lankan fishermen from Chennai on Wednesday, arrived near the International Maritime Boundary Line at 11 am. Lankan Naval ship ‘Shakthi’ with 31 Indian fishermen and two Lankan coast guard ships with 20 Indian fishermen arrived at 12.30 pm, and the repatriation process was complete by 3 pm.
Fisheries Minister KA Jeyapaul received the 51 fishermen who arrived at Marg Port at Karaikal and presented them new dresses and offered food. Nagapattinam Collector T Munusamy and Commandant Udhal Singh of the Karaikal Coast Guard station were also present. Of the 51 fishermen, 21 were from Karaikal, while 20 were from Pudukottai district, and 10 from Nagapattinam district. The Minister arranged for their journey to their native places in separate vehicles on government expenditure.
Meanwhile, emotional scenes were witnessed after the fishermen reached the Karaikal port. The families of the fishermen gathered at the port thanked the governments for securing the release of the fishermen. They also urged the governments to take steps to retrieve the seized trawlers that were still under Sri Lankan custody.
Earlier, a Colombo report said that 52 fishermen were to be handed over to the Indian Coast Guard personnel by the Lankan navy. However, one fisherman identified as Ponnusamy of Karaikal, is said to have suffered a cardiac arrest before leaving Lanka, and is under medical treatment at Jaffna.
Meanwhile, the released fishermen claimed Ponnusamy suffered cardiac arrest after he was informed that his seized trawler would not be returned.
Talking to Express, an 18-year-old Karaikal fisherman Nagendran explained the ordeal he suffered in the island nation. “Every time we were produced before the court, we believed that we would be sent home soon. We never imagined that we would undergo three months of ordeal before reaching home,” he said.
They alleged that they were handcuffed for as many as five times out of the seven occasions they were produced at the court.