116 TN Fishermen Reach Karaikal Port

A month after their arrests for poaching in Sri Lankan waters, 116 fishermen from Tamil Nadu arrived by the Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajtharang at Karaikal port in the small hours of Tuesday.

 The return of the men and their 26 boats has set in an atmosphere of goodwill in the run up to the March 25 talks between the fisherfolk of the two countries.

Of the released fishermen, 51 belong to Rameshwaram, 36 to Mandapam 19 are from Jagadapattinam (Pudukottai) and 4 from Nagore (Nagapattinam).

The repatriation took place along the IMBL around 3 p.m. on Monday and the fishermen arrived here by Rajtharang at 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

However, the repatriation of 25 Sri Lankan fishermen and their five boats that were released on the orders of the State government on March 15 is being delayed for want of clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs. According to a Fisheries Department source, the general holiday for Holi is presumed to have delayed the issuance of clearance by the MEA.

According to Commandant Udhal Singh, Indian Coast Guard Station, Karaikal, the repatriation will take place on the production of the clearance certification from MEA by the district administration. The Sri Lankan fishermen, who were arrested for poaching off Velankanni, were remanded on February 10 and their remand period was extended up to March 25.

However, as part of the confidence building measures in the run up to the scheduled March 25 talks, the fishermen were released from Puzhal and brought to Nagapattinam on Saturday. They are currently under the custody of the Coastal Security Group in Nagapattinam.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone, Arulanandham, president, Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen, the 25 Sri Lankan fishermen will be repatriated along with their boats from Karaikal, and simultaneously 9 Sri Lankan fishermen along with their two boats will be repatriated from Chennai.

Taking the goodwill initiative forward, Akkarapettai fishing hamlet has bought 25 sets of clothes for the Sri Lankan fishermen awaiting their repatriation here. “We will foot the rations for their five boats, when they leave,” Thiruvaraiselvan, panchayatar, Akkarapettai told The Hindu. (The Hindu)

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