Sri Lankan fishermen home-bound
The Hindu: The Indian Coast Guard began simultaneous repatriation of Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen at 11 a.m. on Thursday along the Indo-Sri Lankan International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
ICGS ‘Vishwast’ sailed from the Chennai Harbour to the IMBL on Wednesday evening with 52 Sri Lankan fishermen who were released from Puzhal central prison here a couple of days ago. Deputy Inspector-General of Coast Guard Captain S.K. Varghese would supervise the swapping of fishermen, Inspector-General of Coast Guard Commander S.P. Sharma said.
While handing over the fishermen to Sri Lankan naval ship ‘Shakthi’, the Indian Coast Guard will bring home 51 fishermen. One of the Indian fishermen was hospitalised following an ailment. The fishermen would be handed over to the Fisheries Department of the Tamil Nadu Government at the Karaikal Port.
The Indian Coast Guard (Region East) said in a statement that 23 Sri Lankan fishing boats with 124 crew members and 38 Indian fishing boats with 391 crew members were repatriated last year.
In Ramanathapuram, U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), said the 52 Indian fishermen included 20 from Jagadapattinam arrested by the Lankan navy on November 21 and 32 from Karaikal held on October 17. The 52 Lankan fishermen, hailing from Trincomalee region were arrested during August-November last year.
Hailing the ‘goodwill gesture,’ he said the much-awaited swapping of fishermen detained in both the countries would be completed only if their boats were also released. While releasing the fishermen, the two governments should simultaneously release their boats if they were keen on finding a lasting solution to the issue, he said.