Lanka to Release 104 Indian Fishermen Ahead of Pongal


Colombo: Ahead of the Pongal festival, Sri Lanka on Thursday decided to release 104 Indian fishermen arrested by the country’s navy for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters.

In view of the Thai Pongal festival, Sri Lanka will release all the Indian fishermen on Friday, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said.
According to the Ministry, 104 Indian fishermen will be released and the letter of recommendation for their release has been sent to the President by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries WMMR Adikari said that concerns have been raised over eight fishermen, who were charged for damaging fishing vessels belonging to Lankan fishermen, Colombo Page reported.

No Sri Lankans are currently jailed in India for crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line, Adikari said, adding that however, India has agreed to release any fishermen arrested over the next three days. The fishermen issue continues to be a major irritant in the Indo-Lanka ties.

Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters, while the latter maintain they are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Colombo in 1974.