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* Sri Lankan court releases 136 Indian fishermen
Fri, Feb 18, 2011, 08:04 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 18, Colombo: A Sri Lankan court Friday released the 136 Indian fishermen who were apprehended by the authorities in the country's North in two separate incidents after they entered Sri Lankan waters.

The Point Pedro district court and the Mallakam Magistrate have ordered the release of the Indian fishermen.

The fishermen and their fishing boats have been handed over to the Sri Lanka Navy.

Navy Spokesperson Kosala Warnakulusuriya has told the media that the group of Indian fishermen will be escorted along with their 25 trawlers by the Navy and handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Sri Lankan fishermen Tuesday (15) rounded up 112 Indian fishermen who have entered Sri Lankan waters for poaching and handed them over to Point Pedro police in the Jaffna peninsula. Another 24 fishermen were detained by the Police on Wednesday.

The release of the Indian fishermen comes after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna made direct contact with his counterpart in Sri Lanka, Prof. G.L. Peiris about the fishermen.

India expressed its "deep concern" yesterday and urged the Sri Lankan government to take necessary steps to release the 136 fishermen when the courts open after the two-day holidays.

The arrest of the Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities has sparked massive protests in their home state of Tamil Nadu.

The Chennai police had arrested over 5,000 DMK party members, including party MPs Kanimozhi and T. K. S. Elangovan yesterday when they tried to stage a protest outside the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

Krishna expressed his deep regret on Sri Lankan fishermen taking law into their own hands and warned that they too have to be "very cautious" when they are getting into Indian waters.

The Indian Foreign Minister has suggested to the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister that fishermen associations from both sides should discuss and come to an agreement with regard to fishing in international waters.

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