Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar's report on the fishermen arrested by Iran gets government moving, MEA sanctions money for their flight home
Twenty-nine fishermen -- 27 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and two from Karaikal in Pondicherry -- were arrested by Iran on October 10, 2012, for fishing in its waters, and kept them in jail till a report on rediff.com caught the eye of an official in the PMO who intervened and got them released in the last week of December 2012.
Along with the fishermen Iran also impounded their seven boats.
Although the fishermen were following the PMO official’s intervention and released into the custody of the Indian embassy there, their boats – from Qatar – were not released as the latter had arrested some Iranian boats which had strayed into its waters. The sailors waited in vain but their boat was not freed.
In desperation they again turned to the Indian embassy for permission to return to India but were told that buying 29 air tickets cannot be done without approval from the external affairs ministry.
The sailors then spoke appealed to Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
There was also a matter of four Iranians who were kept in Indian jails. Ravi did his best to get them released and sent back.
In the meantime, Rediff.com’s kept up the pressure on the overseas ministry, external affairs ministry and the PMO to sanction funds for the fishermen’s tickets. The latter, in the meantime, were running out of funds and were surviving on one meal a day and a cup of coffee.
The government machinery finally got moving and the funds for 29 air tickets were sanctioned. The fishermen are flying back to India on Monday night on an Emirates flight, and will land in Thiruvananthapuram in the wee hours of Tuesday.
The James EngineeringCollege, Kanyakumari, is sending a bus to reach the fishermen from the airport to their village, where their families and villagers are awaiting expectantly.