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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5.08 GMT

We were treated with dignity in Sri Lanka – Indian fishermen


There was a pleasant twist to the tale of the nine Indian fishermen who returned to Rameswaram from Talaimannar in Sri Lanka on Tuesday morning. The fishermen, who arrived in an Indian Coast Guard vessel at Mandapam, told Indian media that they were treated with dignity and given good food and proper accommodation during their stay at Sri Lankan naval base in Talaimannar.

The Sri Lanka Navy took them into custody on Saturday afternoon after two of their boats broke down in Lankan waters. Chinnian, Malaichamy, Tamilselvan and Selvam from one boat and Rajamanickam, Packia Joseph, Mariappan, Vijayakumar and the owner of the second boat, Ramu, were taken to the naval base where they were held for two days. On Monday night, the Sri Lanka navy released them at the International Maritime Boundary Line and the Indian Coast Guard took custody from there on.

Mariappan and Packia Joseph told the media that they were stranded in Lankan waters near Katchathivu when the navy personnel found them. They casually asked the fishermen what the problem was. Upon learning that the vessels had broken down, they towed the boats to the naval base at Talaimannar. “We were treated in a dignified manner and they provided us good food and decent accommodation throughout our stay there,” they said. Later, Ramu told Times of India that the naval personnel spoke to them in Tamil. “We feared the worst. But they treated us well. At Talaimannar, they repaired my boat,” he said. “Besides food, they gave the fishermen comfortable beds to sleep and bed sheets. They didn’t torture us in the name of inquiry but just asked how we ended up in that area. When we explained the problem, they helped us in very humane way,” he said.

However, many in the fishing community mentioned that there is a palpable change in the attitude of Lankan naval personnel towards Indian fishermen. Those who were stranded in Lankan waters during Cyclone Thane were treated well, according to them.





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Last modified: January 25, 2012.

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