Fifty-one Indian and three Sri Lankan fishermen were today repatriated to their respective countries in line with the decision taken at a recent ministerial-level talks held in Colombo, a Fisheries official said.
Sri Lankan Navy handed over the 51 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, arrested over the past few months, to Indian Coast Guard at the International Maritime Boundary Line in the Palk Bay.
Similarly, three Sri Lankan fishermen, released from the Puzhal Prison in Chennai on January 8, were handed over to the Sri Lankan Navy at the IMBL, Ramanathapuram District Fisheries Deputy Director Kasinatha Pandian said.
The trio had drifted into Indian waters off Dhanushkodi recently after their boat ran out of fuel and were arrested.The Tamil Nadu fishermen would arrive at Karaikal coast from where they would be taken to their respective destinations, officials said.
The 51 fishermen from Tuticorin, Pudukottai and Ramanthapuram districts were arrested by the Lankan Navy while fishing in their territorial waters between November and December, 2016 and lodged in prisons in the island nation.
They were released on January 6 as per the decision taken at a high-level meeting between the two countries in Colombo where the vexed issue of fishing rights in the Palk Bay was discussed.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had headed the Indian delegation at the January 2 talks during which Sri Lanka also agreed to consider returning a large number of fishing boats while India decided to set free three Lankan fishermen.
Meanwhile, around 2,000 fishermen from this island town returned without catch this morning after they were allegedly chased away by the Sri Lankan naval men while fishing off Katchatheevu last night, Rameswaram Fishermen's Association representative Sagayam said.