The Sri Lankan government on Friday released 109 of the 136 Indian fishermen who were arrested on charges of poaching in the country’s territorial waters. The released fishermen are likely to be repatriated in the coming days.
These fishermen were arrested by Sri Lanka’s naval agencies after Pongal (mid-January). After being produced in courts, they were remanded in judicial custody and lodged in Sri Lankan prisons.
Four fishermen were released on February 9 on humanitarian grounds when the son of one of them died in Mandapam due to a sudden illness. These fishermen were repatriated on February 10.
As many as 109 fishermen were released on Friday. Fishermen activist U Arulanandam of the Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen in Pamban said 30 fishermen had been released by a Point Pedro court while the rest of 79 fishermen had been released by a Kytes court. “Twenty seven fishermen from Tamil Nadu are still lodged in Mannar and Jaffna prisons,” he said.
Fishermen speculated that the release may a goodwill gesture of Sri Lanka since St Antony’s festival on Katchatheevu islet in Sri Lankan waters is scheduled to happen on February 23 and 24. Hundreds of Indian and Sri Lankan pilgrims will take out a voyage to attend the festival.
“The Sri Lankan government could have released other fishermen also from their custody. It would have greatly delighted the fishermen families who are struggling for a livelihood,” said fishermen leader B Jesuraja of Rameswaram.
(The Times of India)