|Thursday, 15 July 2004|
Fishermen laud PM for prompt action
by Bharatha Malawaraarachchi and Buddhika Imbulana
A group of fishermen met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday at Temple Trees to pay their tribute for the action taken by him to obtain their release from the Indian authorities.
These fishermen from Negombo and Tangalle areas were taken into custody by the Indian Coastguard after their boats drifted to Indian territorial waters on June 02. Being informed about the incident, Premier Rajapakse held a discussion with Indian High Commissioner Nirupam Sen and made a request to release them as those fishermen had entered the Indian waters due to bad weather.
While appreciating the efforts of Premier Rajapakse, fishermen said this was the first time a group of fishermen were released within just six weeks and returned to Sri Lanka.
The group comprised 18 fishermen in three boats. After being taken into custody, the Indian coastguard officials had handed them over to Mandawan Police in Tamil Nadu. They were later produced before Courts which sentenced them to prison for violating emigration regulations.
They had been kept 25 days in the Madurai prison.
Later, the Indian High Commissioner had informed Indian authorities about Premier Rajapakse's request and the authorities had released the fishermen.
Addressing the gathering, Premier Rajapakse said the cordial relations between the two countries helped to expedite their release.
The fishermen said they were treated well by the Indian authorities and fishermen. They paid tribute to the Prime Minister, the Indian High Commissioner, the Sri Lankan High Commission in India, Minister of Fisheries and Deputy Minister and Ministry officials and the Sri Lanka Navy.
Produced by Lake House