26 KARAIKAL FISHERMEN TO BE RELEASED TODAY
Protests by the fishermen community and political parties have yielded result with the Sri Lankan government ordering the release of the 26 Karaikal fishermen on Monday.
The fishermen who are in the custody of the Sri Lankan government will be released after being produced before the Lankan court, said Union Minister of State V Narayanasamy.
"Orders for the release have been issued after the intervention of Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Ministers of Tamil origin," Narayanasamy said.
As the relations between India and Sri Lanka were not good due to agitations against Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu, securing their release took lot of time, he added.
Karaikal North MLA P R N Tirumurugan told reporters that the release was delayed because it took time to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Lankan Navy.
"As Sri Lankan Minister Arumugam Thondaman had said that the Sri Lankan Navy had issued the NOC to the court, we are expecting the release of the fishermen on Monday," Tirumurgan added.
Meanwhile, Dravidamani, representative of the Pattinachery hamlet, said, "An official of the Indian High Commission in Lanka requested us to come to Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district Monday evening to receive the fishermen along with five mechanised boats."
He thanked the Centre for initiating steps for the release of Karaikal fishermen.
The 26 fishermen from the fishing hamlets around Karaikal were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy late on April 5. The fisherfolk were picked up while fishing allegedly in the Lankan waters off Kovilam Point in Jaffna. The Sri Lankan Navy also seized five boats, nets, other accessories and the catch from the fishermen. Another group of fishermen who witnessed it alerted the Coast Guard in Karaikal.
After the arrest of the fishermen, Puducherry witnessed lot of protests demanding their release.
Narayanasamy intervened and approached the authorities to secure their release and avoid continuous assaults and arrests on the fishermen from the district. Chief Mnister N Rangasamy also took up the issue with the Union Government to ensure immediate release. He had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to initiate efforts for their early release.
Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, the Livestock and Community Development Minister, Arumugam Thondaman and Tamil National Alliance MP from Wanni district, Sivasakthi Anandan, visited a group of detained fishermen in Anuradhapura jail. The Ceylon Workers' Congress MP and lawyer, P Rajadurai, also played a key role in the release, said sources.(ENS)