The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday decided to release all 85 Indian fishermen who are now in its custody.
“The fishermen will be released as soon as possible, the orders have been passed,” a top source in the Sri Lankan government told The Hindu . The Indian government too is likely to reciprocate the gesture and release the 19 Sri Lankan fishermen in its custody, the source said.
After Britjo’s death
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.
Following the 21-year-old fisherman’s death, which sparked protests among fisherfolk in Rameswaram, India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday and conveyed India’s “deep concern” over the incident.
Terming it a matter of “grave concern”, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry on Tuesday assured India of all possible cooperation in probing the death.
The release of 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.
As of Wednesday, a total of 146 Indian trawlers are in Sri Lankan custody. (The Hindu)