Twelve fishermen from Tamil Nadu have been arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on the charge of fishing in the territorial waters of the island nation.
The fishermen, who had put to out to sea from Jegadapattinam in Pudukottai district, were arrested near Neduntheevu late on Saturday night, a Fisheries official said on Sunday.
The fishermen along with their two mechanised boats had been taken to Kankesanthurai Port in northern Sri Lanka, Assistant Director of Fisheries Alexander said.
Besides, around 2,000 fishermen from Rameswaram who were fishing near Neduntheevu in 500 boats were chased away by the Lankan Naval personnel and they returned to the shores of Rameswaram on Saturday night, officials in Rameswaram said.
The latest incident of arrest is the fifth such detention of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy this month.
While Sri Lanka released 77 fishermen on March 14, as many as 38 fishermen, including those arrested on Sunday, are in the custody of the neighbouring nation.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami had on March 23 written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to ensure the release of the fishermen and 131 boats in the custody of Sri Lanka.
Voicing concern over the recurring detentions of fishermen, he had appealed to the prime minister to direct the external affairs ministry to take up matter with Sri Lankan authorities in a ‘concrete and decisive manner’.
Fishermen in the state have also staged protests, including over the recent killing of a colleague allegedly by Sri Lankan Naval personnel, and demanded steps to resolve the issue of fishing rights in the Palk Straits and ensure that their livelihood was protected.
Image for representation only. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters