Jan 25, 2014, 5:09 AM
News Code: 81009064
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India, Sri Lanka release fishermen

New Delhi, Jan 25, IRNA -- Continuing the release of detained fishermen as part of a mutual agreement between the two countries, 40 Indian and 18 Sri Lankan fishermen were set free Friday, Tamil Nadu Government said.

A Lankan court today directed Sri Lankan government to release 40 Indian fishermen and four yesterday. With this total number of those set free by the island nation has risen to 255 since the two countries started releasing fishermen lodged in the prisons in India and Sri Lanka after a recent agreement.

A total of 42 fishermen from Karaikkal in the Union Territory of Puducherry have also been released.

According to official release issued in Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state, the state government today directed the release of 18 Sri Lankan fishermen and three boats, pti reported. 'Over 180 Indian fishermen, who have been released by Sri Lanka, would arrive at Karaikkal tonight and Saturday,' it said, adding Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has directed that they must be sent to their respective native places at government expense.

Out of 180, 71 fishermen were repatriated at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) this morning.

Coastguard ship 'ICGS Samudra Paheredar' received the 71 Indian fishermen and 15 of their boats at the IMBL, another official release said.

The coastguard authorities also handed over 59 Sri Lankan fishermen, ordered to be set free earlier, and their four boats to the Lankan Navy.

Ahead of a crucial meeting between fishermen associations of both countries slated here next week to discuss the vexed issue of fishing rights in Palk Strait, India and Sri Lanka have been releasing fishermen lodged in their jails.