India, Sri Lanka release 52 fishermen each

New Delhi, Jan 13 : India and Sri Lanka released from their captivity 52 fishermen each on Monday to ease the tension over the issue.

The fishermen were released as part of a goodwill gesture. The move was made by both the Asian nations ahead of a meeting by the Fishermen's Association in Chennai this month.

"Process of release of fishermen underway. #India-#SriLanka release 52 fishermen each thus far," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

On Jan 3, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said he had spoken to the Sri Lankan government on the problem.

"As far as fisherman problem is concerned, we have discussed with Sri Lanka. The problem of fishermen in India and Sri Lanka can be resolved only when they sit and talk about it," said the PM.

"I feel there is an opportunity for Sri Lanka and Indian Tamils to fix the fishing issue," he said.

Earlier on Dec 30, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to the Prime Minister demanding strong action against Sri Lanka for allegedly attacking Indian fishermen 'unprovoked'.

"Unabated, brutal, unprovoked attacks and instances of opening of fire on our innocent fishermen have been carried out by the marauding Sri Lankan Navy despite several joint statements and declarations by both the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka to desist from such activities," Jaya wrote in her letter to the PM dated Dec 30.

"The meek and weak response from the Government of India to the repeated instances of abduction and attacks on our fishermen in their traditional waters has emboldened the Sri Lankan Navy to act brutally against our innocent fishermen," she said.

As many as 18 Indian fishermen were reportedly arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on Dec 30 for allegedly violating the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), a day after 22 fishermen were arrested from Jagadapattinam in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu.

Amid an ongoing tension between India and Sri Lanka over the ethnic Tamil issue, the situation worsened with arrest of Indian fishermen.

Hundreds of Indian fishermen are lodged in Sri Lanka jails for allegedly fishing in their waters.

In 2011, Indian fishermen were also killed by the Lankan Navy.

--IBNS (Posted on 14-01-2014)

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