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Tamil fishermen on indefinite strike

Chennai, Dec 2 (): Sri Lankan High Commissioner here confirmed the worst fears of the Tamil fishermen by confirming that five of those arrested were slapped with charges of smuggling drugs. If convicted they would face 30 years in prison.

In view of this, the Fishermen’s Association took the decision to stay off sea. They say that in future this would be the pattern of the Sri Lankan Navy and it would put their future in peril. They have withstood the firing on them and navy taking away the catch and cutting their nets as well as pelting them with stones. If such drug charges are foisted on them, they would be in jail for 30 years and instead would look for other options.

Ramanathapuram District Collector Arun Roy, who led a two member team for the meet, said that  the Tamil Nadu government had contacted Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and that talks would be held with Lankan government Officials and Centre to get the fishermen released.  Two hearings of the case have already been conducted and a conviction could be possible in the next hearing.

Meanwhile, reports reaching here said all the five Tamil Nadu fishermen were presently lodged in Jaffna prison.Ramanathapuram Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO), C Muthukumaran headed the peace talks in which leaders of various fishermen associations and women fisher-folk took part. Muthukumaran assured the agitating fishing folk that Tamil Nadu Government was in touch with Sri Lankan Embassy and the fishermen were expected to be released from Sri Lankan prison and repatriated to Tamil Nadu before December 7.

34 Indian prisoners-27 from Tamil Nadu and 7 from Kerala are in Lanka prisons. According to an agreement, Colombo and New Delhi signed during Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to India in June that calls for exchange of sentenced prisoners between the two countries.