Nov 17 (Hindu) Fifteen fishermen from Rameswaram, who had been jailed in Sri Lanka on the charges of poaching in the territorial waters of the island nation and using banned fish net in the Palk Bay, were released by a court on Thursday.
Sri Lankan Navy personnel arrested the 15 fishermen November 5. The fishermen were produced in a court in Sri Lanka, which remanded them in judicial custody. The court, which heard their case on Thursday, ordered their release. Following the court directive, the 15 fishermen were handed over to the officials of the Indian High Commission in Jaffna.
A teenage boy from Thangachimadam, who was one among the 15 fishermen, was not jailed. He had gone for fishing along with his father to help the family repay debts. The boy was under treatment for kidney ailment and hence he was sent to a Home in Sri Lanka, family members of the fishermen said.
Thanking the Union and State governments, fishermen leader Jesu Raja told The Hindu that the government should hold talks with Sri Lanka and ensure that such arrests did not recur. Frequent arrests had not only threatened the fishermen, but also posed a big question to their livelihood.
The Sri Lankan government also impounded the mechanised boats of the arrested fishermen and finally auctioned them. The problem remained only half-resolved with the release of the fishermen. At least 50 fishermen depended on a mechanised boat directly and indirectly. Hence, detaining a boat meant rendering 50 fishermen jobless, he said.
Since 2018, a little over 100 mechanised boats, which were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, were not returned. Only now, the Tamil Nadu government had announced a compensation of ₹5 lakh for each boat detained, but the money was yet to reach the fishermen here. Mr. Jesu Raja said instead of giving compensation to them, the governments should help in getting back the boats intact.
The 15 released fishermen would return home soon after fulfilling the statutory procedures in Sri Lanka, he added.