MAYILADUTHURAI: In an unusual incident, four fishermen from the State landed illegally in Sri Lanka in a motorised boat on Thursday morning, allegedly searching for a group from the island nation which had cut their nets at sea. Sri Lankan authorities arrested the four and seized their fishing vessel.
Three of the arrested fishermen -- boat owner G Pandiyan (46), B Sakthivel (20) and A Sakthivel (40) – are from Mayiladuthurai district while Thiruselvam is a native of Cuddalore district. According to sources, the four fishermen were staying at Kodiyakarai in Nagapattinam district and were fishing in Palk Strait.
On December 27, Pandiyan and his crew put out to sea again in their motorised boat. When they were fishing southeast of Kodiyakarai on the night of December 28, a group of Sri Lankans in another boat appeared and cut the gillnet the four had spread in the waters. The group then took it along with them.
Pandiyan and his crew pulled back whatever remained of the net and tried to chase the Sri Lankans to retrieve the remaining portions, sources added. On Thursday morning, Pandiyan and his crew landed at Valvettithurai in Sri Lanka’s Jaffna district. They were holding enquiries over the missing net with local fishers when a team of police personnel apprehended the four for illegally entering Sri Lanka.
The authorities seized their motorised boat and fishing gear which are altogether estimated to be worth about `10 lakh, sources further said. As news of their detention reached the fisherfolk community in Mayiladuthurai and Nagapattinam, members of Perumalpettai fisherfolk panchayat met Coastal Security Group (CSG) and fisheries department officials and urged them to take action for the repatriation of the arrested fishermen and for the retrieval of their vessel.
R Arumugam, a fisherfolk representative from Perumalpettai, said, "Our men panicked upon losing a part of their gillnet which is worth lakhs of rupees and thus tried to get it back. They landed on Sri Lankan shores unintentionally in search of the net. We request to bring them back along with their vessel and fishing gear." When contacted, a CSG official told TNIE, "Indian fishers shouldn't follow Sri Lankans into their territory even if they were robbed as trespassing into foreign territory may cost them more."