Rameswaram: Twenty-two fishermen from
Jagadapattinam and other coastal villages in Pudukottai
district were on Wednesday taken into custody by Sri Lankan naval
personnel when they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the
Palk Straits, officials said.
Inspector of Fisheries Ramamurthy said they had received
information about the detention of the fishermen and the
Indian Coast Guard had been informed.
The Sri Lankan naval men, when contacted by the Coast
Guard, informed them that the fishermen would be handed over
to the CG at the International Maritime Boundary line,
Ramamurthy said. But they asked them not to come today as
the sea was rough on their side, he said.
The Navy personnel had told the Coast Guard that they
would inform them as soon as the sea was normal, he said.
On December 15, five fishermen were taken into custody by
Sri Lankan Navy when they were fishing near Katchatheevu but
were released in the night. Last month, five fishermen were
arrested by the Lankan Navy on drug smuggling charges and
their judicial remand has been extended to January 2.
The families of the arrested fishermen had observed a fast
on December 17, demanding that steps be taken for their
immediate release. Local fishermen had also refused to put to
sea till a solution was found.
Meanwhile, search has been launched to trace three
fishermen missing for the last four days, officials said.
Katchatheevu is an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in
1974. Local fishermen have for long been demanding restoration
of traditional fishing rights near Katchatheevu and protection
to them from attacks allegedly by Lankan navy.