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IANS

Eight fishermen from Thangachimadam near Rameswaram were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday while fishing near the Katchatheevu islands.

They were charged with poaching in international waters and crossing the International Marine Boundary Line (IMBL).

The mechanised fishing boat used by the fishermen was also seized by the Sri Lankan authorities.

A total of 540 fishermen from Rameswaram had ventured into the sea in several boats on Saturday and when they were to return on Sunday, eight were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy citing that they had crossed the IMBL.

The arrested are the boat owner Ramesh, Rodick, Ajit, Colombus, Iman, Liston, Pavoothi, and Israel. Tamil Nadu fisheries department officials said that the eight arrested fishermen were taken to a special camp and will be produced in court soon.

Sesu Raja, Fishermen association leader from Rameswaram while speaking to IANS said: "This has become a regular phenomenon and in the last 26 days, 81 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Karaikkal were arrested on charges of poaching. We strongly condemn the highhandedness of the Sri Lankan Navy against our fishermen and appeal to both the state and central governments to immediately intervene in the matter and to bring our fishermen back to the safety of our shores."

The fishermen leaders also said that the boats seized earlier by the Sri Lankan Navy were auctioned. Boss, a fishermen association leader while speaking to IANS said: "It is really unfortunate and both the state and central governments have to act with immediate effect and settle this once and for all. The Sri Lankans are auctioning our boats and they don't have any rights."

He added: "Even as the Government of India is claiming that Sri Lanka is a friendly nation, we are baffled at the attitude of the Lankans towards our fishermen. The reality is that fishermen are neglected by those in power in our own soil."

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Navy, in a statement, said that they have apprehended an Indian fishing trawler and arrested fishermen for the illegal practice of "bottom trawling" on the Sri Lankan waters crossing IMBL.

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