Tamil Nadu

Colombo to release 51 Indian fishermen

In a breakthrough in the long-running fishermen issue between India and Sri Lanka, both sides agreed to release fishermen in each other’s custody on Monday.

Following a ministerial meeting, which was attended by Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Radha Mohan Singh and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Amaraweera, Colombo also agreed to “consider” releasing of Indian fishing boats in its custody.

“Both sides agreed to a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to expedite the release and handing over of fishermen in each other’s custody on completion of respective legal and procedural formalities,” a Joint Press Communique issued at the end of the meeting stated.

MEA sources pointed out that as a result of the agreement, Sri Lanka will release 51 Indian fishermen that it currently holds in custody. “India will release three fishermen in response. But what is equally important is that Sri Lanka has agreed to consider India’s request to release the fishing boats that had taken away from our fishermen,” said an official source.

The agreement follows the first meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries held in Delhi on 31 December 2016 which followed bilateral agreement reached on last November 5.

The Sri Lanka-India fishermen issue has been a long-running problem between two sides which had featured prominently in the bilateral talks that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe held in New Delhi during their 2016 visits.

“As part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMS) agreed to by both sides, it was decided to intensify cooperation on patrolling and to institute periodic interaction between the Coast Guard of the two countries. An understanding was reached to ensure that there was no physical harm or loss of life while apprehending fishermen by Navy and Coast Guard of the two countries,” the press communiqué stated.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 11:21:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Colombo-to-release-51-Indian-fishermen/article16978286.ece

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