Twenty-two fishermen from Tharuvaikulam here were reportedly arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy after they crossed international borders while fishing mid-sea on Sunday.
According to sources, the 22 had ventured out into the sea for fishing in four boats — three mechanised and one fibre — on February 27, and were due to return on Sunday morning. The other fishermen who had accompanied them informed the villagers that the 22 fishermen had been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.
In this regard, the fishermen lodged a complaint with Pradeep Kumar, ADSP, Fisheries, and requested him to take steps to secure their safe release. They also warned of an indefinite fast if steps were not taken to expedite their release.
Speaking to Express, Pradeep Kumar said that though the fishermen had reported the arrest the incident, they were yet to receive an official communication. He also said that the Lankan Navy would hand over the fishermen to the local police, who, in turn, would inform the Indian High Commissioner. The official information about the arrest would be received only on Monday from the Embassy, he said, adding that the matter had been conveyed to higher authorities.
Thoothukudi Collector Ashish Kumar said that the district administration had brought the matter to the notice of the State government through the Chief Secretary. He, however, added that the process would take a long time and the fishermen would have to prove their innocence that they had accidentally crossed the international borders and did not have any criminal intention. He said that they would be in the safe custody of the Lankan Navy as according to international protocol, fishermen from other countries should be treated safe.
People of Tharuvaikulam blocked the road in the evening demanding that the authorities ensure the safe return of the fishermen. The Marine Police rushed to the spot and held talks with the locals and assured them of action, following which the protest was withdrawn. (ENS)