The 18 trawlers seized from them, however, will be retained, a senior government official told The Hindu

The Sri Lankan government has decided to release immediately all Indian fishermen in its custody – nearly 80 of them arrested on June 7 and June 8

President Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted his decision Monday afternoon, saying: “On the occasion of the 1st joint sitting of Indian Parliament, I have instructed officials to release the 78 Indian fishermen in SL custody.”

The 18 trawlers seized from them, however, will be retained, a senior government official told The Hindu.

The President’s tweet was soon followed by another one with an apparent message to the Indian government, where he said: “I look forward to the release of all remaining #SriLankan fishermen in #Indian custody at the earliest.”

About a week ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered the release of 29 Indian fishermen a day after they were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of poaching in Sri Lankan waters off Thalaimannar. Monday's move, well-placed sources said, was in line with the Sri Lankan’s government decision to release the Indian fishermen soon, but to retain their trawlers longer.