136 Tamil Nadu fishermen return home from Lanka

Nagapattinam, Feb 19 (PTI) The 136 fishermen from TamilNadu, who were detained in Sri Lanka for allegedly poaching inthe island nation''s waters, returned here today.

Sri Lankan authorities handed over the fishermen, whotravelled in their own trawlers to Indian authorities at theInternational Maritime Boundary Line, officials said.

The Indian Navy then escorted them to Nagapattinam Port.

The fishermen came in 25 trawlers.

Family members and relatives of the fishermen hadgathered in the port in large numbers and it was an emotionalreunion for them.

Nagapattinam MP AKS Vijayan and MLA Marimuthu welcomedthem with shawls.

The fishermen, belonging to various hamlets ofNagapattinam, Karaikal, Pudukottai and Rameswaram, thanked thecentral and state governments for their swift action insecuring their release.

Of the 136 Indian fishermen, 112 were caught last Tuesdayby a group of Lankan fishermen and handed over to the policethere.

Following their detention, India had conveyed deep concernto the Lankan government and sought their release. The SriLankan government released the fishermen yesterday along withtheir boats following a court order.

The detention sparked off protests in Tamil Nadu with DMKworkers, including MPS, staging demonstrations.

Opposition leader and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa haddemanded "stronger steps" from the Centre on the issue ofattacks on Indian fishermen allegedly by Lankan Navy anddemanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talk to Sri LankanPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa and warn him of "consequences" ifattacks recurred.

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