India should also release Sri Lankan fishermen, says Prasad

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

New Delhi (Reuters):  Sri Lanka’s Envoy Prasad Kariyawasam yesterday said that India should release the Lankan fishermen in a similar fashion as Tamil Nadu fishermen have been freed as a goodwill gesture. Kariyawasam also said that there are 85 Sri Lankan fishermen in jails of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Provinces, who should be sent home. “There are 85 Sri Lankan fishermen in custody in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and we hope that they will also be released similarly. They have been here for quite some time. These are the issues that both countries are trying to find solution but we would like Tamil Nadu fishermen not to cross the international maritime borderline and poach in Sri Lankan borders,” he said. He also emphasised that Indian fishermen should avoid crossing Sri Lankan waters. Earlier on 5 June Sri Lanka had freed 33 Indian fishermen who were arrested for allegedly poaching in the country’s waters, after President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered their release as a goodwill gesture. The fishermen were part of a group who set out in 727 boats from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on 31 May and were arrested while fishing near Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974. The 29 fishermen, with four others, strayed into Sri Lankan waters on 1 June after their boat developed a technical snag. Meanwhile, Kariyawasam added that fishermen issue has taken the shape of humanitarian gesture between both the nations. “Fishermen of both countries across international maritime border line and fishing in other waters has become humanitarian issue and Sri Lanka has been now constantly releasing Indian fishermen, Tamil Nadu who cross into region as a humanitarian gesture as a goodwill gesture,” he said. Rajapaksa attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 26 May in New Delhi and ordered the release of all Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody last month. Fishermen in Tamil Nadu have been constantly fighting to demand safety from the Government. However, Sri Lanka claims that poaching and illegal fishing by Indian fishermen depletes the catches of its own fishermen.There have been a series of protests in the national capital as well as in some other parts of the country against Rajapaksa’s visit by the Tamil community who hold the Sri Lankan Government responsible for the alleged war crimes and atrocities against the Lankan Tamils. More than 100,000 people were killed in the war and thousands, mainly from the minority Tamil community living mostly in the north, are still missing.