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Celebrations break on fishermen’s arrival

Family members of five Indian fishermen

Rameswaram (TN), Nov 21 (PTI) Joyous and emotional scenes were witnessed at Thanachimadam village here today where celebrations broke out on the arrival of five fishermen, who had escaped the gallows after spending three years in a Sri Lankan prison, with families and friends greeting them.

The normally sleepy fishing village in Ramanathapuram district wore a festive mood since morning, as it awaited the return of these fishermen.

Celebrations erupted soon after their arrival as they were garlanded, offered sweets and crackers were burst.

It looked as if the entire village, predominantly fishermen families, had gathered for the well-organized reception for them near the Parish Church, where even the school children in their uniforms were seated on the ground facing the stage put up for the occasion.

Claps and whistles filled the air, when children of these fishermen met their fathers on the stage and sat on their lap after three years.

State Fisheries Minister K A Jayabal, Sports and Youth Development Minister S Sundarraj, Fisheries Secretary S Vijayakumar and Ramanathapuram MP Anwar Raja were present.

Fishermen and fishing hamlet leaders hugged and offered shawls to the five fishermen, who were visibly tired as they posed for the media. They had flown from Colombo to Delhi and then to Chennai, from where they arrived here by road.

Fishing community leaders and others acknowledged the efforts of the central and state governments in securing the release of these fishermen. However, none of the state ministers mentioned the diplomatic efforts taken by the Centre and instead credited party chief and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The fishermen were apprehended in November 2011 and sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking. Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned them after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him on the issue and took efforts through diplomatic channels, following protests and appeals for their release from political parties in Tamil Nadu.

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