Mar 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka Navy and the Coast Guard on Monday assisted the repatriation of 140 Indian fishermen with 31 fishing boats after Sri Lankan courts released the fishermen to enable an environment conducive to hold the second round of talks between the representatives of Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen on March 24 in Colombo.
The Sri Lanka Navy and the Coast Guard handed over 116 fishermen and 26 boats to the Indian Coast Guard Ships, ICG Abheek and ICG Rajtharang at the International Maritime Boundary Line off Kankasanthurei.
Another 24 Indian fishermen and 5 boats were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard Ship ICG Rajkamal in the seas at the International Maritime Boundary Line off Mannar.
Sri Lanka Navy Ship Ranawickrama, two SLN Inshore Patrol Craft and Sri Lanka Coast Guard vessels, CG 43 and CG 48, were deployed for the mission.
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa demanded the release of all 177 fishermen, including five fishermen, who have been detained in a Sri Lankan jail for more than two years on drug smuggling charges, and 44 boats before the second round of talks which were scheduled to be held on March 13.
The talks were postponed after the Sri Lankan courts failed to release all the fishermen before the talks were to be held.
Remaining 32 fishermen arrested for intruding into Sri Lankan waters for poaching and their eight boats will also be released soon, an official source said. However, the five fishermen remanded for drug smuggling would not be released.