As many as 26 fishermen from the fishing hamlets around Karaikal were detained by the Sri Lankan navy late on Friday night.
Confirming the arrest, Com Kosala Warnakulasuriya, a navy spokesman, told newsmen that the fisherfolk were picked up while they were poaching in Lankan waters off Kovilam Point in Jaffna. He said they were brought to Kayts Island and handed over to the Fisheries Department for further legal action.
However, BBC Tamil Service said that the Fisheries authorities handed them back to the navy which, in turn, handed them over to the Home Guards so that they could be produced before a court.
Local sources said that the fishermen from the hamlets of Pattinacherry and Karaikalmedu had set out to sea in four mechanised boats on Wednesday.
Four of the boats belonged to Ramesh, Shivraj, Sankar and Veerabathiran from Pattinacherry village, while the other belonged to Gouri from Karaikalmedu hamlet.
According to sources in Karaikal, the group was fishing in the waters south east of the coast of Kodiakkarai on Friday night. The Sri Lankan navy personnel patrolling nearby is said to have detained them alleging that they had breached into the Sri Lankan waters.
Later, the detained fishermen managed to pass on the information about their arrest to their fishermen panchayat members at Karaikal. The panchayat then appealed to the Karaikal North MLA P R N Thrimurugan to bring the issue to the notice of the Union government for swift action to ensure the release of the detained Karaikal fishermen.
The MLA reportedly assured the fishermen that he would discuss the issue with Union Minister of State V Narayanaswamy.
The Karaikal fishermen demanded immediate intervention of the Union government to rescue the detained fishermen and avoid continuous assaults and arrests on the fishermen from the district.
A month ago, a fisherman from Karaikal suffered a bullet injury on his shoulder while another group of fishermen came under attacks from the Lankan navy resulting in physical injuries to them.
Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, the Livestock and Community Development Minister, Arumugam Thondaman, visited a group of detained fishermen on Wednesday, which, he said, was based on a request from Congress MP from Tamil Nadu, K S Azhagiri. He said that the Ceylon Workers’ Congress MP and lawyer, P Rajadurai, would try to get the detained men out on bail when the case comes up for hearing on April 11.
Also, Tamil National Alliance MP from Wanni district, Sivasakthi Anandan, was the latest to visit the 19 fishermen languishing in Anuradhapura jail.