The fate of 19 Indian fishermen jailed in Sri Lanka for allegedly crossing into Lankan waters will be decided on Thursday, when the case comes up for hearing in Mannar court. Sri Lankan Minister of Livestock and Upcountry Development Arumugam Thondaman, however, told CNN-IBN that the fishermen were likely to be freed. He said, "The case will come up for hearing at the Mannar court on April 11. We will be sending our lawyer to intervene too. As of now, it looks like we should be able to get them out."
On Wednesday, The National Fishworkers' Forum(NFF) has sought the intervention of PM Manmohan Singh regarding the arrest and incarceration of 75 Indian fishermen in a week by the Sri Lankan Navy. Twenty-six fishermen from Karaikal, Puducherry who ventured into the sea on April 5 in five fishing boats were captured by Sri Lankan navy and put behind bars. A fisherman from Karaikal was shot at by the Sri Lankan Navy on March 5.
NFF secretary Vasudev Boloor, in a letter addressed to the PM and released to media, said last week that Sri Lankan Navy took into custody 56 fishermen from Ramnad district and 19 of them are still in their remand. The fishermen from Ramnad district abstained from fishing for a week due to this incident and were harassed when they returned to fishing this week. On April 7, 30 fishermen from Ramnad district were captured and incarcerated.
Observing that this makes a total of 75 Indian fishermen being arrested within a week, Vasudev said fishermen of the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu, from Nagapattinam till Kanyakumari and the Karaikal district of the union territory of Puducherry, are suffering harassment of various kinds by the Sri Lankan Navy. They are beaten, their nets and boats damaged and their catches are being regularly confiscated, Vasudev said.