Sri Lanka releases 77 Indian fishermen
Colombo: Sri Lanka on Saturday released 77 Indian fishermen held by it for allegedly poaching in the island nation’s international waters, officials said.
Nishantha Dhanasinghe, the commissioner general of prisons said the Department of Fisheries had instructed for the release of the fishermen who were arrested during different time periods. Dhanasinghe said 44 of them had already been released by the northern courts in Jaffna and Mannar in Sri Lanka’s northern province. “They will be handed over to the Indian High Commission,” Dhanasinghe said.
Sri Lanka fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the decision had been taken to release the Indian fishermen without their equipment. Lanka had earlier this month passed regulations to ban bottom trawling. Indian fishermen are accused of bottom trawling in the Lankan waters.
On 8 March, Sri Lanka and India had agreed to release fishermen held in each other’s custody after a high-level discussion between the two sides in Colombo in a bid to defuse the tension following the killing of an Indian fisherman.