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Indian, Lankan fishermen repatriated concurrently

Chennai : The repatriation of first batch of 51 Indian and 52 Sri Lankan fishermen, set free ahead of January 20 talk here between their associations over the vexed issue of fishing rights in the
PTI January 17, 2014 13:08 IST
PTI
Chennai : The repatriation of first batch of 51 Indian and 52 Sri Lankan fishermen, set free ahead of January 20 talk here between their associations over the vexed issue of fishing rights in the Palk Strait, was completed yesterday by authorities at International Maritime Boundary Line.  

The 52 Sri Lankan fishermen, released from prisons in Tamil Nadu, were taken onboard Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ship ‘Vishwast' and handed over to Sri Lankan naval and coast guard authorities at the IMBL.

Similarly, Lankan authorities handed over the 51 Indian fishermen -- 31 from Karaikal in Puducherry and 20 of Jegathapattinam in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu—to ICG officials.

The process was completed by 3 pm and the Indian fishermen were being taken to Karaikal, an ICG release said here.

These fishermen had been arrested over a period of time by authorities of respective countries on the charge of entering their territorial waters.

Though 52 Indian fishermen were to be repatriated today, one of them belonging to Karaikal could not travel as he fell ill and had been hospitalised in Jaffna.  Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had last week ordered release of the Sri Lankan fishermen citing Central government's communication that the island nation will take steps for the release of over 200 detained fishermen from January 13.  

The talk is being held to find a solution to the dispute over fishing in the Palk Strait which had seen Tamil Nadu fishermen coming under alleged attacks and detentions by Lankan Navy frequently.

Visiting Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said in New Delhi that both the countries agreed to free all fishermen and release their vessels.

He had said that starting today, about 160 Sri Lankan fishermen and four vessels would be released from India and 236 Indian fishermen and 90 boats by the latter.  

Sri Lanka accuses Tamil Nadu fishermen of straying into their territorial waters, while the latter maintain that they were only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Colombo four decades ago.