Damaged boats keep Indian fishermen trapped in Mannar

[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 May 2003, 16:19 GMT]
Four Indian boatmen with their boats damaged during an earlier incident in mid-sea have been languishing in a weaving centre in Mannar for the last three months with no means to travel to South India. They have threatened to commit suicide if the authorities do not find a way to send them home immediately, sources said.

Frustrated, one of the boatmen attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself but was luckily saved by vigilant occupants of the weaving center, Mannar sources said.

These four young Indian boatmen were taken into custody along with other seventy-seven Indian fishermen by the Mannar fishermen in March when they poached into the terroritorial waters of Sri Lanka, sources said.

All eighty-one Indian fishermen were produced in the Mannar magistrate's court and later seventy-two were released and handed over to the Indian coast guard unit by the Sri Lanka navy, sources said. However nine boatmen were kept in the prison custody and their boats were kept at Kalpity and Pesalai under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Navy, sources said.

Later the nine Indian boatmen were also allowed to go to South Indian in their boats by the Sri Lankan authorities. Five of them have returned to Tamilnadu. Unfortunately the remaining four could not make their trips to their villages in South India as their boats were damaged in midsea. The Sri Lanka Navy again arrested these four men and produced them in the Mannar courts on a complaint that they were seen straying into the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, sources said.

The four men were later released by the Mannar magistrate's court. Since then they have been staying in a weaving centre hall in Mannar in despair as no one is taking any step to send them back to South India. When the Mannar government officials contacted the Sri Lanka Navy they got the reply that the SLN could hand them over to the Indian Coast Guard Unit in the midsea if the Indian authorities in Colombo give consent, sources said.

 

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