KARAIKAL: A total of twelve fishermen, who hails from the districts of Karaikal and Mayiladuthurai, were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy on Tuesday for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line. According to sources, the twelve of them were aboard a trawler owned by S Manivannan from Keezhakasakudimedu (registered under his brother, S Ulaganathan's, name).
The boat left the fishing harbour in Nagapattinam on September 2. Seven of them hail from Karaikal and five from Mayiladuthurai, sources said. Allegedly fishing near Mullaitheevu on Tuesday evening, the Lankan Navy confronted them in a 'fast attack craft'.
They were later arrested for allegedly crossing the IMBL. The boat and the fishing gear were seized as well. The fishers were taken to the Trincomalee Fishing Harbour, and later handed over to the local fisheries inspector. They were then produced before a magistrate in Trincomalee, who remanded them to judicial custody till September 21.
Subsequently, the fisherfolk from Keezhakasakudimedu panchayat met Karaikal Collector L Mohamed Mansoor and requested action for the repatriation of their colleagues. Ulaganathan said, "My brother and his colleagues have been arrested by the Lankan Navy.
A total of twelve families are dependent on them. We request the authorities to take steps to repatriate them and retrieve the vessel." The fisheries department in Karaikal (Puducherry) is irresponsive as to the status of the steps they are taking to repatriate the fishers. An official from the fisheries department in Tamil Nadu said that a report has been sent to the directorate.
Learning about the incident, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin wrote a letter to the Union Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar. Stalin said, "As of now, 23 fishermen and 95 fishing boats from Tamil Nadu are under Sri Lankan custody. I request you take up the issue through diplomatic channels."
Further, Stalin thanked the support the ministry extended for the release of 150 Tamil fishermen who, over the past nine months, were apprehended by Sri Lanka in separate incidents. In a news statement issued on Wednesday, the Sri Lankan Navy said it will be carrying out regular patrols near the IMBL to prevent illegal fishing and, thereby, protect the resources of the country and the livelihood of the local fishermen.