24 Rameswaram fishermen freed from SL prison

One boatman was awarded six-month imprisonment for repeating the offence of “poaching”

April 04, 2024 06:48 pm | Updated 08:30 pm IST - RAMESWARAM

In a big relief to the fishing community in Rameswaram, 24 fishermen from the island who were jailed in Sri Lanka on the charge of poaching were set free, but one boatman was sentenced to undergo six-month imprisonment for repeating the offence on Thursday.

Twenty-five fishermen had ventured into the sea for fishing from Rameswaram jetty in three trawlers on March 20. The Sri Lankan Navy personnel detained them at Neduntheevu islet on the charge of poaching in the territorial waters of the island nation.

The fishermen were produced before a court in Sri Lanka, which remanded them in judicial custody.

Also read: Unending woes: On bottom trawling and the arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka

When the case came up for hearing on Thursday, the court ordered the release of 24 fishermen with the condition that they should not repeat the offence.

However, the court directed one boatman, Jagan, 46, to undergo six-month prison term. Two boats were declared assets of the country, while the owner of another boat, Arulanandam, was directed to appear before the court on June 12.

The Sri Lankan authorities handed over the 24 fishermen to Indian High Commission officials at Vavuniya.

Reacting to the court directive, fishermen leader P. Jesu Raja told The Hindu that they were upset over the continued humiliation by the Sri Lankan government. “We have been saying that we go to the seas for our livelihood... The Sri Lankan Navy, under false pretext, detain us and slap baseless charges like poaching. Now, the courts have begun punishing our brothers by imposing jail terms. This is very unfortunate, unfair and shocking. When will our government help us?,” he asked.

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