June 24, 2017
Chennai: It is not just Sri Lanka that Tamil fishermen have to pay a price for straying into territorial waters. Some 300 Tamil fishermen who strayed into the territorial waters of Andhra Pradesh near Krishnapatham district’s Mannur coast had to cough up a hefty fine to get selves freed and their 35 boats released from the custody of their Andhra counterparts.
It was after hectic bargaining with the panchayat leaders of the Krishnapatnam area that the Tamil Nadu fisheries department and an assortment of fishermen associations could manage to secure the release of the fishermen held captive in Andhra Pradesh ever since June 20.
The Andhra fishermen surrounded the 35 boats and 300 Tamil fishermen and goaded them to the coast and held them captive demanding Rs two lakh per boat as fine.
Within no time, the Kasimedu fishing area became tense after villagers from there were held by Andhra fishermen. And soon the state government officials and fishermen associations got into the act.
After several rounds of talks with the panchayat leaders in the Andhra village, they finally struck a deal – Rs 50,000 fine per boat. It was only after Rs 15.50 lakh was deposited that the Tamil fishermen and their boats were released on Friday late night.
So, in this case of straying into the territorial waters of a neighboring state, the Tamil fishermen were only held captive, in friendly surroundings and a fine collected. And their boats were returned unlike in Sri Lanka, where they are jailed and then boats confiscated. Only after they languish in jails there that they are released with great difficulty and their boats never to be returned.
It might be a good idea for the Tamil fishermen to be a bit more careful in future, opined a fisheries department official unwilling to be named.