Indian fishermen remanded in Sri Lanka

Twenty-three fishermen, who were held by the Sri Lankan navy on Saturday night were produced in Mannar court and were remanded till August 6. Meanwhile, fishermen associations in Rameswaram have called for an indefinite strike till all the fishermen, including the five held on drug peddling charges on November 11, are released.

U Arulanandam, president of Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF) said that the arrested fishermen were kept in Talaimannar police station on Sunday and were produced before the court on Monday. The judge has remanded the fishermen till August 6. They are locked up in Anuradhapuram prison. “We are working on getting drop action order from the attorney-general in Sri Lanka and we are expecting them to be released as early as possible,” he said.

“Our only demand is that 23 fishermen, who were arrested recently and the other five should be released immediately. We have decided to go on an indefinite strike in this regard,” said B Jesuraja, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Mechanised Boats Fishermen Association.

“The families of those five fishermen suffer untold miseries with their breadwinners locked up in Sri Lankan prisons. Our government agencies have certified that they were not involved in drug peddling offence, yet the Sri Lankan government is not releasing them,” he added.

“Recently, Seemon (19) younger brother of Emerson, the boat owner in Sri Lankan prison committed suicide due to family problems. He was studying engineering in Chennai and the boy was struggling to pay his college fees. The families is struggling without proper income,” Jesuraja pointed out.

“It is unfortunate that the government is not coming out with an amicable solution for the conflict between Sri Lankan Navy and our fishermen. Our fishermen should have been trained on alternate fishing methods to avoid this harassment, but government stops merely with announcements in spite of our repeated demands,” rued Arulanandam.

Informed sources in Rameswaram said that that the Sri Lankan navy was keen on arresting the Indian fishermen after those in the island nation submitted a petition to them. They said the fishermen held a meeting on July 11 and decided to urge their authorities to stop Indian fishermen entering into their waters, complaining that they are damaging their fishing gear. They also threatened that if the navy is not acting, they will start taking custody of the Indian fishermen entering their waters. After this development, the navy is keen on arresting the Rameswaram fishermen and the recent arrest and the earlier arrest of 10 fishermen indicate the same, the sources said. (Times of India)