Chennai fishermen held ‘captive’ in Andhra Pradesh

June 4th, 2008 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 3 (IANS) Over 100 fishermen from the city were taken hostage by rival fishermen in Nellore district of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, police said Tuesday. “We have received reports that 106 fishermen from Kasimedu along with 20 boats were ‘captured’ by a local fishing group in Andhra Pradesh while fishing off the coast in the early hours today (Tuesday). Ransom demands of Rs.15,000 per boat are said to have been made, which are being verified through official channels,” police sources told IANS.

An official said on phone from Nellore that the incident was triggered by the alleged destruction of nets by Tamil fishermen off the Andhra Pradesh coast.

“Talks are underway with one of the leaders of a local fishing group here who have claimed huge losses after destruction of fishing nets by Tamil fishermen. We are hopeful of solving the problem and releasing the captives soon,” the official said.

Satellite television channels here telecast telephone conversations with the “captives” and the “captors”, who gave conflicting versions of the incident.

While the Tamil fishermen claimed innocence, their captors claimed they had suffered Rs.500,000 losses.

“Unless someone pays for the wasted nets worth over Rs.500,000, the hostages will not be released,” a person identified as Govindalu was quoted as saying.

“Where will we get this ransom amount to release my husband, who is the sole breadwinner of my family? We hardly earn Rs.1,500 after a week’s toil. So far, we had only heard of the Sri Lankan navy capturing fishermen from Rameshwaram. Now people from our own country are doing it,” S. Karuppayi Raju, 28, wife of one of the captives told IANS.

This was the first time that Tamil fishermen were being held captive in the neighbouring state, the police sources added.

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