The Government of Sri Lanka has informed the High Commission of India in Colombo that all 85 Indian fishermen currently in Sri Lankan custody will be released.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesman told the media that instructions in this regard to the concerned authorities in Sri Lanka have been issued. We are awaiting further orders from Sri Lanka. The Indian Government too is likely to reciprocate the gesture and release 19 Sri Lankan fishermen in its custody. The development comes two days after Tamil Nadu fisherman K. Britjo was shot dead in the Palk Bay. Tamil Nadu fishermen have accused the Sri Lankan Navy of opening fire at the fisherman, but the Sri Lankan Navy has denied the charge.
The decision to release the 85 fishermen is in line with the Sri Lankan Government’s policy of swiftly releasing fishermen it arrests on charges of poaching, but retaining the trawlers seized. The fishermen issue has been a bone of contention between the two countries and evokes strong emotions in Tamil Nadu.