Nine detained fishermen return home

Nine Indian fishermen, set free by a court in Sri Lanka after being detained by Navy for `straying` last week arrived at the coastguard camp.

Rameswaram: Nine Indian fishermen, set free by a court in Sri Lanka after being detained by the island Navy for `straying` into their waters last week, arrived at the coastguard camp in Mandapam near here on Sunday.

The fishermen belonging to Akkaraipettai village near Nagapattinam were handed over to Indian Coast Guard personnel at the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) last evening and brought to Mandapam this morning, officials said.

The fishermen were taken into custody by Sri Lankan Navalmen on June 19, three days after they had put out to sea. They were produced in a court in Kankesanturai in northern Sri Lanka.

The court had released them with a warning after the fishermen said that they had strayed into Sri Lankan waters due to wind and rough sea.

Talking to reporters on their arrival, fishermen Prabhu, Jayaraman and Prakash said they were given good food and taken care well while in Sri Lanka.

They thanked Tamil Nadu Government for its intervention in taking up their case with the Centre and securing their release. The fishermen were sent to their native village.

In a fresh mid-sea incident, four fishermen from here were on Sunday attacked allegedly by Sri lankan Navalmen who surrounded their boats off Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Lanka in the 1970s, fisheries department officials said.

The Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly lashed the four with nylon ropes, they said.
The four were part of about 3,000 fishermen who had put out to the sea last night in 676 boats from here, the officials said adding the Sri Lankan Naval personnel surrounded the boats and threatend them to leave the area at gun point.

They also took away the fish catch from various boats. The fishermen were warned that they would be imprisoned for life if they entered the Sri Lankan territory, officials quoting the fishermen said.