Dec 23, Colombo: Sri Lanka and India today exchanged the fishermen detained in each other's jails as a goodwill gesture in light of the coming Christmas and New Year.
Sri Lanka Monday released 66 Tamil Nadu fishermen who were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy on charges of illegal fishing in Lankan waters after crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
In return, India has released 30 Sri Lankan fishermen from their custody.
Sri Lankan fishermen released by the Tamil Nadu State authorities were repatriated to Sri Lanka today (23 December) enabling reunion with their families in time to celebrate Christmas. The Sri Lanka fishermen boarded SLNS Ranagaja at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and arrive at the Kankasanthurai harbor this evening.
After the Tamil Nadu government had ordered the release of the Lankan fishermen on Monday, the Sri Lankan government, in a reciprocal gesture, had ordered the release of Tamil Nadu fishermen. The Point Pedro and Kayts courts had set free the fishermen on Monday.
However, the Point Pedro court while ordering the release of 28 Tamil Nadu fishermen refused to release 15 Tamil Nadu fishermen and extended their judicial remand till January 5.
The released fishermen will be exchanged at the maritime border off Kankasanthurai, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development said.
Sri Lanka Navy will hand over the Tamil Nadu fishermen to Indian Coast Guard vessel Vishwast. However, their trawlers will not be released.