India, Lanka agree to release all fishermen in each other's custody

India, Lanka agree to release all fishermen in each other’s custody

Sri Lanka will immediately release 51 Indian fishermen from its custody and has agreed to consider returning a large number of fishing boats while India will free three Lankan fishermen, as per outcome of a high-level meeting between the two countries on the vexed issue.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “As result of the ministerial meeting, Sri Lanka is releasing 51 Indian fishermen and we are releasing three Sri Lankan fishermen. Most significantly, Sri Lanka has also agreed to consider our request for release of fishing boats.”

The talks co-chaired by Union Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and Sri Lankan fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera, was participated by senior officials from both countries.

A joint communiqué issued after the meeting said that bottom trawling, practiced mainly by fishermen from Tamilnadu, will be phased out in a graded time-bound manner.

Sri Lankan side agreed to consider the request from Indian side to immediately release the fishing vessels in each other’s custody.

Earlier on Monday, chief minister O Panneerselvam urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to release 52 Tamil Nadu fishermen who are in Sri Lankan prisons.

He also urged Modi’s intervention for the release of more than 100 Indian fishing boats that are in Sri Lankan custody.