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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 72

Released Tamil Nadu fishermen meet Chief Minister Karunanidhi

By Walter Jayawardhana

Chennai, 20 May, ( The eleven Tamil Nadu fishermen who went through their lives’ worst ordeal of a meaningless imprisonment of two months by the Tamil Tiger and got released through the influence of pro-LTTE Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu were brought before him for a photo session to make political capital out of it, Tamil Nadu sources alleged.

Karunanidhi earlier had blamed the Sri Lanka Navy for the death of five fishermen and later reportedly put pressure on the Manmohan government to issue a statement blaming undisclosed unnamed deaths of seventy seven fishermen on the Sri Lanka Navy as part of the deal he reached with the LTTE, to get the fishermen released.

It is not yet known whether any LTTE Sea Tigers, who were in the custody of the Tamil Nadu police were released, as a part of the deal. Released Tamil Nadu fishermen meeting Chief Minister KarunanidhiReleased Tamil Nadu fishermen meeting Chief Minister Karunanidhi

The Tamil Nadu Police transported the fishermen in a police van to the Chief Minister's office and imposed a strict control on other fishermen not to speak to the press except one fisherman who is believed to have been coached what and what not to say. A fisherman named Clements was the only one allowed by the police to talk to the newspapers.

An analyst in Colombo said Karunanidhi is creating an atmosphere very conducive to the LTTE to operate freely in his state, even killing and kidnapping, and at the same time make a political mileage when the kidnapped fishermen under those circumstances kept in a foreign jail for months before released.

According to the Tamil Nadu police the following fishermen have been released: Clements (45 years), Kingsley (24), Thatheyus (42), Deepak (24), Joseph Thatheyus, Aniston (14), James (40), all from Kodimunai, Jesudasan (38), Albert (38) and Franklin (40) from Kottilpadu, Kanyakumari district and Prabhu alias Sathiya Royappan (28) of Tuticorin.

As part of the public relations campaign Chief Minister Karunanidhi announced that that each fisherman would be paid Indian Rupees 10,000 as compensation.

According to the officially sanctioned part allowed to be related to the press through Clements, it was revealed that before their release by the LTTE, they were blindfolded, ordered to board a vehicle and when they reached the sea shore were put into two Tiger boats after being separated into two groups. Clements said they were handed over to Indian fishermen at Iranaitheevu in the early hours of Friday to be taken back to India. When they came to Tamil Nadu they went to the residence of the local Christian priest from where they were taken to Chennai by the police.

They were presented in the office of the Director General of Police. Clements, cleared by the police to speak to the press further said, the kidnappers took them from one hideout to another at gun point while being in Sri Lanka. Clements said their hideouts had large photographs of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran and they were allowed to listen to the propaganda radio of the Tamil Tigers.

Meanwhile The Hindu quoting Tamil Nadu Director General of Police D.G.P Mukherjee said, that Simon, a mechanical engineer from Kerala, who was also in the boat captured by the LTTE, was reported to be in Maldives. But there was no official confirmation yet. The abducted fishermen were kept in an island near Mannar for the first few weeks and during the last fortnight shifted to different places.

The Hindu report further said, “In a choked voice, Mr. Clements recalled that they were kidnapped when they were fishing in the sea in a mechanised boat, Sri Krishna, by the Tigers. They were provided food. They had to sleep on mats in the forests among snakes. Their boat worth Rs. 40 lakh was taken away by the Sea Tigers.

“They pleaded with Tigers that they be let off, saying they had not committed any wrong. The LTTE cadres kept repeating they needed the help of the fishermen, but promised to send them back to Tamil Nadu later. On one occasion, when their location came under the attack of the Sri Lankan Army, the fishermen were moved to what looked like a jail. They were asked to rush inside bunkers to protect themselves from attack by the Sri Lankan forces. They were taken to another place one night and put in jail again.

"A `Q' branch official said the fishermen had told the police that the Tigers celebrated the bombing of the Katunayake airport, bursting crackers and distributing ice cream to hostages. A similar celebration was organized when the Tigers bombed an oil depot. At the first place of stay, when there was an air raid, they were ordered to rush inside bunkers. On two other occasions, they were asked to lie down.”

No sooner fisherman spoke to the press they were rushed away in a police van."

- Asian Tribune -

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