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Sri Lanka frees all Indian fishermen

The 136 Indian fishermen arrested and remanded earlier this week for straying into Sri Lankan waters were released by a Jaffna court on Friday. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2011 17:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The 136 Indian fishermen arrested and remanded earlier this week for straying into Sri Lankan waters were released by a Jaffna court on Friday.

It was learnt that the fishermen and their 25 seized trawlers will be escorted to the international maritime border line (IMBL) later this evening by the Sri Lankan navy. From the IMBL Indian Coast Guard ships were expected to take over and escort them back home.

The 136 fishermen were intercepted in two batches by Lankan fishermen operating off the Jaffna coast on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was possibly for the first time that local fishermen themselves had taken the law into their own hands and then handed the Indian fishermen and handed them over to the police in the coastal town of Point Pedro.

The Indian government was in touch with the Lankan authorities to secure their release over the last few days but the local court remanded them in 14 days of judicial custody. The procedure to release them was further hampered because of two public holidays in the middle of this week.

Meanwhile, in Jaffna, a group ethnic Tamil fishermen, said both India and Sri Lanka were interested in seeking political mileage out of the issue, the TamilNet website reported.

Quoting anonymous sources, TamilNet said: “… in Maathakal and Vadamaraadchi East (in Jaffna) intruding Indian fishermen had attacked local fishermen Thursday when they attempted to confront the poaching vessels.’’