Sri Lanka releases all Indian fishermen



Sri Lanka releases all Indian fishermen Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: A Sri Lankan court on Friday ordered the release of all 136 Indian fishermen detained by its Navy after they strayed into Sri Lankan waters.

The development comes a day after the Government of India expressed concerns over their detention and initiated efforts on war-footing seeking their release.

Soon after the Point Pedro Court in Sri Lanka’s Jaffna district ordered their release, External Affairs Minister SM has thanked his Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris for the support.

These fishermen were being held at Mallakam, Jaffa.

Douglas Devanand , a cabinet minister of Sri Lanka, had earlier promised that the fishermen would be released by Friday.

In view of increasing pressure from the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, the government had asked the Sri Lankan government to take "necessary" steps to get them released.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris and asked him to facilitate the release of all Indian fishermen.

The order for their released was passed today since Thursday was a holiday in Sri Lanka and the courts were not functioning.

Out of the 136 fishermen, 112 were caught by a group of local fishermen and handed over to the police there.

The incidents of detention of and recent attacks on fishermen have triggered protests in Tamil Nadu where over 5,000 DMK workers, including party MPs Kanimozhi and T K S Elangovan, were arrested on Thursday when they tried to take out a rally to Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

India had last month accused the Sri Lankan Navy of killing at least two Indian fishermen.

The killings had triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity between the two south Asian neighbours following which Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Colombo to seek assurances to prevent such incidents in future.

The issue was also raised by Krishna in his meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Peiris earlier this month in Thimphu, on the sidelines of a SAARC ministerial conference.

With Inputs from Agencies