Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], November 21 (ANI): Fifteen fishermen who were released from Sri Lankan prisons reached Chennai airport on Tuesday.
Earlier, as many as 22 fishermen from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu who were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy for having strayed into international waters were released and arrived in Pambam through boats.
On November 18, the Sri Lankan Navy apprehended and interrogated two country boats with 22 fishermen on charges that they were allegedly catching fish.
On November 18, the traditional fisherman delegation met Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, requesting the release of these fishermen, who had strayed into international waters due to adverse climatic conditions.
The Finance Minister spoke to the Foreign Secretary and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, following which the fishermen were rescued.
As the fishermen returned to India, a delegation of fishermen today expressed gratitude to Sitharaman for her intervention.
Sitharaman reassured the families of the fishermen that the government under Narendra Modi, has always kept the interest of Tamils at the highest priority.
Earlier on October 29, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had written to external affairs minister S Jaishankar highlighting the issue of repeated arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.
"As you are aware our fishermen are solely dependent on their fishing activity for livelihood and these frequent arrests are causing immense distress and suffering to the fishermen community. Such acts of Sri Lankan Navy have created pressure and panic in the minds offishermen communities in the State," the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said in his letter.
Stalin also reiterated the demand to protect the traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay region. He said that in the month of October alone, 10 fishing boats and 64 Tamil Nadu fishermen had been apprehended by the SriLankan Navy.
"I wish to state that Tamil Nadu fishermen feel that their voices are on the wane; and I feel that the Government of India should stand more vocally for our fishermen's rights and speak for their safety. I would also like to reiterate the demand to protect the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen in the Palk Bay region." read the letter written by Stalin. (ANI)