Fishermen in Sri Lankan custody released

Five fishing boats and a 46-member fishing crew were briefly apprehended and released by the Sri Lankan Navy following an alleged mid-sea face-off between fishermen from both sides of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), the Hindu website reported today.

The fishermen were transferred to the custody of the Indian Coast Guard in Nagapattinam last morning, from where they landed ashore.

According to security sources, the three fishing boats from Pattinachery and two boats from Akkarapettai hamlets were fishing off the Kodiakkarai coast on Thursday morning, when they allegedly had a confrontation with the Sri Lankan fishermen. The Sri Lankan Navy was said to have seized the Indian boats and briefly apprehended the fishermen, the Hindu reported.

The Indian Coast Guard, which was alerted through the Indian High Commission in Colombo, was directed to take custody of the fishermen.

Speaking to The Hindu, Commandant Utpal Singh, Commanding officer, Indian Coast Guard Station, Karaikal said ICGS Rajkamal was directed to take custody of the fishermen from the Sri Lankan authorities. Meanwhile, two Sri Lankan fishermen, who drifted into the Indian waters off the Kodiakkarai coast recently were handed over to the Sri Lankan authorities. The men were booked under the Passport Act, 1967 and remanded.