(Published in The Millennium Post, on 10 July 2012, retrieved from http://millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=5158)
Ten Tamil fishermen, who were taken into custody by the Sri Lankan Navy on July 1, were released on July 9, following an order issued by a Lankan court.
On Monday morning, Assistant Director of Fisheries, A Karthikeyan, told media at Rameswaram that the fishermen and the boats would be handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the International Maritime boundary line.
Five fishermen, who had set sail from Rameswaram on June 30, strayed into Sri Lankan waters in the rough weather. Their boat broke down in the middle of the ocean. A Sri Lankan Navy patrol took the men into custody, and lodged them in prison.
Meanwhile, a rescue team of five more fishermen had set out in search of their missing colleagues, and were also taken into custody by the Lankan Navy.
The arrested fishermen were remanded in the Jaffna court, which ordered that they be jailed in the Anuradhapura prison till July 12.
However, the Indian Embassy filed an appeal at the Jaffna court, urging the release of the captured fishermen.
The court then ordered the release of the men. Karthikeyan told the press that Mannar Judicial Magistrate Anthony Pillai Jutesen had warned the fishermen to be careful in future, and make sure not to violate the maritime boundary.
This is the second case of fishermen being attacked in the last couple of weeks. On 26 June, a group of Indian fishermen alleged that they were fired at by the Sri Lankan Navy. They also said members of the Sri Lankan Navy climbed aboard their boats, threw their catch into the sea and cut their fishing nets.
There are frequent reports that fishermen from Tamil Nadu have been attacked, detained, and tortured by the Sri Lankan forces. According to some estimates, more than 500 fishermen from India have been wounded or killed in the Palk Bay in the last 30 years.