Court orders release of 34 TN fishermen

Saturday, 16 March 2013 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Hindu (PTI): A day after India lodged a strong protest against detention of its fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, a Sri Lankan court on Friday ordered the release of 34 fishermen, officials of a fishermen association in Rameswaram said.

Quoting information received by them, Innocent Fishermen Association President Arulanandam said the 34 fishermen, captured on Thursday near the islet of Delft in the northern Jaffna District, were produced before a court in Oorkavalturai, which ordered their release.

He said the fishermen would return home either tonight or tomorrow.The fishermen from Thangachimadam, part of a group which had ventured into the sea, were arrested on the charge of trespassing and poaching in Sri Lankan waters, the second batch to be detained after 19 others were taken into custody on 14 March.

The 19 fishermen were on Thursday remanded to judicial custody till 28 March by a court in Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka.

Under attack from political parties, including the DMK and AIADMK, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that India summoned the Lankan Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over such incidents and pressed for restraint besides release of all those held.

The arrest of the 53 fishermen has triggered tension in the Rameswaram region, besides prompting the Mechanised Boat Fishermen’s Association to announce indefinite fishing boycott from Friday demanding the release of their colleagues.

A meeting of the association also decided to picket Central Government offices if the fishermen were not released by Thursday next, its President N.J. Bose said.

Slamming the centre for its ‘silence’ over the attacks on fishermen, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa yesterday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying it should not be construed as weakness and embolden Colombo.