Lankan fishermen to return tomorrow

Twenty-one Sri Lankan fishermen have been released from India and are due to arrive in Colombo tomorrow, the Xinhua Chinese news agency quoted a Fisheries Ministry spokesman as saying today.

Along with the fishermen, four fishing boats that were taken into custody by the Indian Coast Guard have also been released, ministry spokesman Narendra Rajapaksa said.

The Indian Coast Guard has taken measures to hand over the fishermen and their vessels to the Sri Lanka Navy at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) off Kankasanthurai, said Rajapaksa.

The Indian Coast Guard unit on patrol off Krishnapet near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, north of Chennai, arrested the fishermen on Jan. 18, according to local media reports.

They were detained along with their four boats and equipment and brought to Chennai where they were remanded for 15 days by a court order.

Tension prevails between the fishermen of the two countries who regularly cross into each other’s territorial waters.

Local fishermen have alleged that Indian fishermen have clashed with them off the coast of Sri Lanka while Indian fishermen have charged that the Sri Lankan navy has attacked them. These allegations were vehemently denied from both sides.