Nagapattinam: Seventy-seven Tamil Nadu fishermen, arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in separate incidents this year on charges of poaching, arrived at the Karaikal port near here early on Friday after their release by the island nation.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Handlooms Minister O S Manian and family members and relatives of the fishermen were among those who received them at the port, official sources said. The fishermen belonged to Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts.
The Sri Lankan Government had on July 28 agreed to release the fishermen. The Sri Lankan Navy handed over the fishermen to Indian authorities near the International Maritime Boundary Line yesterday. Escorted by the Indian Coast Guard, the fishermen reached the Karaikal port early today, the sources said.
On March 8, Sri Lanka and India had agreed to release fishermen held in each other’s custody after a high-level discussion between the two sides in Colombo in a bid to defuse the tension following the killing of a 22-year-old fisherman belonging to Rameswaram allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy.
The fisherman, Bridgo, was shot dead on March 6 while he was fishing in a mechanised boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet.