Kin seek release of fishermen detained in Jaffna jail

Appeal to Collector to take it up with State and Centre


Family members of four Rameswaram fishermen who were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy and remained incarcerated in Jaffna prison since November, 2018 urged the Collector to secure their immediate release after taking up the issue with the State and Central governments.

In their petitions to Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao on the public grievances redressal day here on Monday, the family members said the fishermen were fishing on the high seas on November 29, 2018 when the Lankan Navy personnel arrested them after sinking their boat by ramming it.

Since then, they were incarcerated in the prison, they said. They expected their release on Monday when they were produced before the court but the court extended their remand till June 10, they said. Their judicial remand was extended for the 18th time on Monday, they said.

The fishermen appeared to have been arrested under the Passport Act by the Kayts police as the fishermen lost their identity cards and fishing permits after their boat was sunk, said S. Chinnathambi, president, Traditional Fishermen Association, who accompanied the family members.

The ramming into the fishing boat was not an accident but a new strategy being adopted by the Lankan Navy to destroy the livelihood and scare the fishermen from entering Lankan waters, he alleged. The incarcerated fishermen are V. Thangavel, 50, Kattu Raja, 47, Murugan, 50 and Varghese, 45, he added.

Meanwhile, U. Arulanandam, president, Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen, said he visited the fishermen in Jaffna jail in March and had taken up the issue with the Indian External Affairs Ministry and the High Commission of India in Colombo.

When he met the High Commission officials in Colombo after visiting the fishermen, the officials said the Kayts police had registered a case against the fishermen on the charges of ramming the Lankan navy vessel.

He, however, explained the officials that it highly impossible for the fishermen, who were fishing in a wooden vessel measuring 36 ft to ram the 120 ft long naval steel vessel. The officials assured check with the navy, he said.

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