SL orders release of 21 Indian fishermen

The Sri Lankan authorities will hand over the fishermen to the Indian Consulate after which they will be repatriated to India in a week after undergoing all Covid-19 safety measures. The 21 fishermen had gone fishing on January 31 in two boats. Tweleve were in one boat and nine in the second. The Sri Lankan Navy took them into custody while they were fishing at Kodiyakarai that night itself.

Twenty-one fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry's Karaikkal who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) on January 31, were ordered to be released by a court in the island nation.

The Sri Lankan authorities will hand over the fishermen to the Indian Consulate after which they will be repatriated to India in a week after undergoing all Covid-19 safety measures.

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The 21 fishermen had gone fishing on January 31 in two boats. Tweleve were in one boat and nine in the second. The Sri Lankan Navy took them into custody while they were fishing at Kodiyakarai that night itself.

The fishermen were taken to a court in Point Pedro and remanded in judicial custody till February 7 and later extended till February 21. the trawlers were taken into custody at the Myllidi fishing harbour in Jaffna district.

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The Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Sri Lanka impounded the two boats and according to the law of the island nation, the boats are unlikely to be released to the fishers.

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Meanwhile, 29 other fishermen from Ramanathapuram who were arrested in three separate incidents are still jailed in Sri Lanka.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has already sent a letter to the Union External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to intervene for their immediate release.

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The fishermen associations of Tamil Nadu have made frenetic appeals to both the state government and the Centre to take up the issue of arresting Indian fishermen with the highest authorities in Sri Lanka.

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While speaking to IANS, S. Jesudasan, leader of the Ramanathapuram fishermen association, said: "The fishermen and their families are living in constant fear of being arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for even unintentional crossing of the IMBL. With the boats being confiscated, we have lost our source for livelihood and these fiber boats are very costly. I request the government of India to intervene in the matter and settle this problem once and for all that is creating major psychological, financial, and physical issues to fishermen and their families.

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