For the first time this year no Indian fisherman is in Sri Lankan jail, following the release of 94 fishermen yesterday by the island nation. Officials said hundreds of Indian fishermen had been apprehended by Lanka Navy while fishing in their waters and with the release of the latest batch, none of them is now in Lankan custody.
The fishermen issue is a very emotive one for both the countries. While Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been repeatedly pressing the Centre to take it up with Lankan leadership, there was tremendous pressure on the Sri Lankan government to initiate judicial process against the apprehended Indian fishermen, resulting in their prolonged detention.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had announced release of all Indian fishermen ahead of his visit to New Delhi to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony on May 26.
Lanka has released 225 Indian fishermen since the Modi government took over. The 94 fishermen belonging to Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam and Pudukottai districts, who were released by the island nation yesterday, were taken into custody by the Lankan Navy last month. India has been maintaining that it is a humanitarian issue and has always recommended talks between fishermen associations from both the sides.