The much-anticipated meeting in India between representatives of fishermen’s associations from India and Sri Lanka, scheduled for January 20, has now been postponed to January 27, according to Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne.
According to sources in the Indian mission, the two countries wish to complete repatriation of all fishermen before the meeting is held, and want some time to complete the procedures.
As many as 121 Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan were released on Friday. While initially procedures were on to hand over 111 Indian fishermen who had been in custody in Trincomalee on the island’s east coast, a magistrate court in Mannar ordered the release of ten more of them on Friday.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Senaratne said all the remaining Indian fishermen in custody here, along with their trawlers which were seized, would be released by January 22.
However, later on Friday, official sources in Trincomalee said the 111 fishermen refused to leave saying unless their trawlers were also released right away, they would not return to India. They were planning to go on a hunger strike in Trincomalee.
Earlier this week, Sri Lanka and India released 52 fishermen each. Of the fishermen released, one Indian is yet to be repatriated for medical reasons.
Jayalalithaa orders release
Special Correspondent reports from Chennai:
At least 111 Sri Lankan fishermen lodged in prisons in Chennai and Ramanathapuram are expected to be released late Friday night. In a statement, the Tamil Nadu government confirmed that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had ordered the release of 61 Sri Lankan fishermen.
Sources in the Intelligence agencies said the police were processing orders to facilitate the release of another 50 fishermen.
These fishermen found fishing in Indian waters were detained by the Indian Coast Guard under the provisions of the Maritime Zones of India Act, 1981, and handed over to the Tamil Nadu police for prosecution.