Sri Lankan Navy on Monday detained 14 fishermen from Tamil Nadu for allegedly fishing in their waters but freed them hours later on sighting an Indian Navy vessel near the International Maritime Boundary Line.
A senior Navy official said the vessel was sent after coming to know about the plight of the fishermen to bring them back and on spotting it, the Lankan navy released them.
Naval Commander Vijaranya told PTI that the Indian fishermen were being brought to shores along with their boat.
The fishermen were taken into custody when they were near the third sand dune between Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka, and Arichalmunai in the sea off Rameswaram, where another group of 13 fishermen were detained by the island navy and released recently.
Fisheries department officials, quoting four released fishermen, said the armed Sri Lankan navalmen came in two boats and asked the 18 fishermen to surrender.
They took 14 fishermen into custody and towed one boat with them while releasing four fishermen and another boat.
The 14 fishermen were handed over to Indian Navy who would bring them back.
President of Indo-Sri Lankan Innocent Fishermen’s Association Arualanandan, quoting an Indian official based in Jaffna in Sri Lanka, claimed the fishermen were released immediately on the orders of the Sri Lankan government.
It was the second such incident within a fortnight. Twenty-three Indian fishermen, along with five trawlers, were arrested on June 21 off the north east coast of Mannar by the Sri Lankan Navy which alleged that they were fishing in Sri Lankan waters.
They were remanded to judicial custody but released on June 29 following an order from Mannar district court.