Rameswaram: Courts in Sri Lanka today ordered the release of 66 Indian fishermen arrested by Lankan Navy and lodged in jails there, a top official said. Joint Director of Fisheries M.Subburaj and Local Fishermen's association president S.Emirit said they got the information from Sri Lankan officials.
The fishermen were lodged in Oorkavalthurai and Paruthiturai prisons and were ordered to be released by the courts at the respective places, they said. Twenty-seven fishermen from Nagapattinam, 19 from Pudukottai, 12 from Rameswaram and eight from Karaikal in Union Territory of Puducherry were arrested by Lankan Navy on different dates for allegedly fishing in Lankan waters.
The fishermen were expected to reach Tamil Nadu by tomorrow, they said. Their release had been ordered shortly after a Ramanathapuram District Judicial Magistrate ordered release of 12 Lankan fishermen who were arrested off Kanyakumari coast on September 30,along with their two boats.
The 12 fishermen were ordered to be released after the Inspector submitted that they were withdrawing the case against them. Following the submission,the court also directed the case to be closed. The fishermen would be handed over to Lankan officials. It is not known whether their boats also would be released.
On December 20, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the state government has been informed that Lanka had agreed to free 66 fishermen in its custody but not their boats and asked the Centre to take up the issue with the island nation.