23 TN fishermen arrested by Lankan Navy

Sri Lankan Naval personnel allegedly attacked some fishing boats and arrested 23 Tamil Nadu fishermen when they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Straits today, fisheries department officials said.

The Lankan Navy also seized five boats, officials said.

The fishermen would be produced before the Mannar Judicial Magistrate court, they said.

Rameswaram Fishermen's Association President Emirett said the Lankan navalmen attacked 20 other fishing boats and seized the fishing nets.

Katchatheevu, an islet, was ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974

On July one, ten fishermen from this coastal town were taken into custody by the Lankan Navy for reportedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in their waters but were subsequently ordered to be released by a Mannar court.

Following their arrest, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing concern over "unrelenting, harsh attitude of the Sri Lankan Navy" towards Indian fishermen. She had also sought the Centre's intervention in securing the release of those arrested by the island republic's navy.

Meanwhile, Rameswaram fishermen have decided to go on indefinite strike from tomorrow to protest against the arrest of their counterparts.

At a meeting convened by Emirett, fishermen of 11 Fishermen Associations asked the Centre not to be indifferent to such treatment of Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Emeritt alleged that the arrest of Indian fishermen and their release had become a regular feature in recent times.

The fishermen had the right to fish in traditional areas, he said.

He demanded that the seized five boats be also released along with the 23 fishermen.

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