Rameswaram: An Indian Navy ship on a patrol turned out to be the saviour of a large group of fishermen from here when they were allegedly being chased by Sri Lankan naval men close to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), fisheries officials said today.
The fishermen had put out to sea in more than 600 boats yesterday after calling off their three-day old strike protesting detention of 23 fellow fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy on June 20.
As they reached the area close to IMBL, they were chased away by Sri Lankan naval personnel who came in their patrol boats, the officials said quoting the fishermen who returned to the shores in the wee hours today.
However, the Sri Lankan naval men retreated on seeing the Indian Navy ship, they said, adding that the fishermen also told them they were able to fish without any trouble thereafter.
“We could fish without any problem till mid night and return to the shore,” one of the fishermen told officials.
The fishermen had a good catch as they put out to the sea after a gap of four days, officials said.
Navy and Coast Guard officials said they have intensified patrolling in the region in the wake of arrest of the 23 fishermen by Sri Lankan naval men.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had taken up the fishermen arrest issue with Prime Minister and sought his intervention following which Sri Lanka assured that the fishermen would be released soon.
The Rameswaram fishermen withdrew their strike after talks with district and fisheries officials on June 23.
Recurring attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy had been an issue for a long time. Sri Lanka accused the fishermen of crossing the IMBL and fishing in the island waters, offering rich fish wealth.