Tamil Nadu: 32 fishermen released by British Indian Ocean Territory police in Diego Garcia
The fishermen had caught fish to a tune of Rs 50 lakh. They also steered the vessel away to avoid detention, said the prosecution summary.
THOOTHUKUDI/KANNIYAKUMARI: The Diego Garcia authorities of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), located in the central Indian ocean, released 32 fishermen of Kanniyakumari after two months of keeping them in custody. According to sources, two of the fishermen are from Nagapattinam, one each from Thiruvananthapuram and Assam, and the remaining are from different parts of Kanniyakumari.
They set sail for fishing in two deep sea fishing vessels from Thengaipattinam harbour in Kanniyakumari district on September 15. Both of the vessels were owned by S Bastin of Chinnathurai. On charges of alleged trespassing and involvement in commercial fishing, BIOT officials seized both the vessels and took the fishermen onboard into custody on September 27.
The fishermen had caught fish to a tune of Rs 50 lakh. They also steered the vessel away to avoid detention, said the prosecution summary. The BIOT police produced them before a magisterial court in Diego Garcia island on October 3.
Stating that the fishermen had entered BIOT waters unintentionally and without the knowledge of the marine nature and the flow of the sea current, INFIDET president Justine Antony, on behalf of the affected fishermen, sent representations to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and requested to release them and the vessels without any penalty.
"Following efforts from the Tamil Nadu government and Minister of State of Fisheries L Murugan, the Diego Garcia authorities released one of the two vessels and all the fishermen without a penalty. They are likely to reach Kanniyakumari shores next week," said Antony.
Bastin thanked Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister MK Stalin for their consistent efforts. He also sought the release of the other vessel still under the custody of BIOT authorities.