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PM's intervention sought to secure release of fishermen

PTI 03 Jun 2015, 10:59:03 IST

Rameswaram(TN): A fishermen body today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to secure release of 14 persons arrested by Sri Lankan navy while fishing near Katchativu and said they would resort to a state-wide strike if the detainees were not freed before June 12.

The three boats seized yesterday, along with the 25 taken earlier, should also be released, they said.

Fishermen, who staged a demonstration in front of the fisheries department office here today, said the Union government should act swiftly to ensure the release of their colleagues by June 12 as they had been remanded till that date.

If they were not released by then, they would resort to a state-wide strike, Fishermen's Association President S Emirit and its secretary Sesudoss told reporters.

They also advised fishermen not to cross the International Maritime Boundary line and enter Lankan waters.

They thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for urging the PM to help secure release of the fishermen and said they were left with no other option except fishing in the Palk Straits.

“Due to continous attacks and arrests of fishermen, many had moved to other coastal areas for fishing. There is no other industry in drought hit Ramanathapuram and agriculture is also not possible.”

They said the Navy or Coast Guard should not arrest Sri Lankan fishermen also as they also depend only on traditional fishing areas just as their Indian counterparts.

The arrested Sri Lankan fishermen should be released, they said.

After a 45-day ban on fishing, imposed to enable fish breeding, the 14 fishermen had ventured into the sea from the Rameswaram fishing base in Ramanathapuram district yesterday.

They were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly poaching in that country's waters near Katchatheevu and later taken to Talaimannar coast along with their three boats.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had yesterday urged the PM to secure the immediate release of the 14 fishermen along with 19 other fishing boats already in Sri Lankan custody.

The CM had said it was unfortunate that despite the state government taking a positive approach and helping facilitate bilateral level talks, the abduction of innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu continues unabated.

A permanent solution to this problem must be found by through a decisive initiative by the Centre, she had said.