KARAIKAL : As many as 77 fishermen from three districts who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on various instances for violating the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) were repatriated here on Thursday. The fishermen alleged that during their prison term, they were abused and were provided unhygienic food.
Speaking to reporters, Murugavel, a fisherman from Akkarapettai fishing hamlet of Nagapattinam, said, “We were fishing near the IMBL when the Lankan Navy personnel arrested us. We were lodged at Jaffna Prison and treated in an inhumane manner. They provided us stale food and threatened to take us to Pakistan.”
The 77 fishermen – 48 from Ramanathapuram district, 22 from Nagapattinam and seven from Pudukkottai – were handed over to the India Coast Guard (ICG) personnel at IMBL, from where they were taken to Karaikal private port in ICG patrol vessels Ameya and Rani Abbakka. While ICGS Ameya, ferried 22 fishermen from Nagapattinam, seven from Pudukkottai and 10 from Ramanathapuram, Rani Abbakka carried the remaining 38 fishermen of Ramanathapuram district.
They were welcomed at the port by their kin, Nagapattinam Collector S Palanisamy, Commissioner of Fisheries Beela Rajesh, Karaikal Station Commandant S N M Patnaik and Joint Director of Fisheries Subburaj. The fishermen were apprehended by Lankan Navy at Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar between May 31 and July 15.