Following a court order on Friday, 136 Indian fishermen were sent back to India from Jaffna.

After their arrest on the charge of fishing in Sri Lankan waters, two local courts in Jaffna remanded the fishermen in 14 days judicial custody and sent them to jail.

Their release followed External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's talks with his counterpart here and hectic diplomatic initiative by the Indian mission here headed by Ashok K. Kantha.

The fishermen's 25 boats were released.

“They went back in two batches,” Indian Consul General in Jaffna V. Mahalingam told The Hindu over phone. Of the three Indian diplomats in Jaffna, two were at the piers, overseeing the return journey of the fishermen. The Indian Coast Guard has been alerted and they will escort the fishermen back to their harbours in south India from the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

It was on Tuesday the first batch of fishermen was arrested by Jaffna fishermen.

In an unprecedented move, the Jaffna fishermen, with their small boats, surrounded the Indian fishing boats and forced them ashore, from about 10-15 km off Point Pedro. This act of “citizen arrest” had the blessings of the Sri Lankan Navy, and was widely commended in the media here, which decried the “poachers” and their attitude of fishing the waters off the north “clean.”

The second batch of 24 fishermen, along with their seven boats, was also brought ashore, following a similar act of “citizen arrest.”

The first batch spent two days in the Jaffna jail and the second batch a day. Some Indian fishermen, who spoke to Indian officials and prominent local people, apologised for straying into the Sri Lankan waters. They said that since the Sri Lankan waters were rich in fish resources, the boat owners wanted them to cross the IMBL and get good catch.