Catholic Church in Orissa helps free 19 Sri Lankan fishermen

» 10/04/2011 13:04

by Santosh Digal
24 held for more than two months for having exceeded the limits of territorial waters. Ten freed October 1, nine (five of which are Christians) October 3. Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar: “Look to the future with hope.” For the last five prisoners a few more months of waiting.

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – 19 Sri Lankan fishermen have been freed, 24 of which were held in Orissa for more than two months for having exceeded the limits of territorial waters in the Indian Ocean. The delicate mediation of the Catholic Church in Orissa has proved crucial in their liberation.

The release was divided into two phases: on October 1 last Fr. Dibakar Parichha, Secretary of Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, took up the initiative and released ten of them, held in Jagatsinghpur prison, October 3, nine others – including five Christians – were released . At the request of the priest, the fishermen will stay in his house waiting to complete all official formalities to return home.

The afternoon of their release, the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar John Barwa met the men: “We can feel the agony and suffering you have experienced in recent months in prison. This is a moment of joy for all of you. You will return home soon: look to the future with hope. ”

For the last five Sri Lankan fishermen, the prison doors will open later. Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Pariccha explained that one will be released on November 11, two more on January 1st 2012. The last two still do not know a date for their release. Their boats – also confiscated by police in Orissa – will not be returned to their rightful owners.

Between 20 and 30 September, Fr. Augustine Singh visited the families of the fishermen in Sri Lanka, assuring them that the Catholic Church was doing everything possible for their release. Last August, the director of Caritas Sri Lanka-Sedec, Fr. George Sigamoney, sent a letter to Father Mattamanana Varghese, executive director of Caritas India, to facilitate the men’s release.