Govt. refuses to release Indian fishermen -Despite Jayalalithaa’s threat to abort talks

Minister Rajitha Senaratne

Sri Lanka yesterday said it has no plans to release 74 Indian fishermen and the 18 boats seized on Wednesday, before the proposed Colombo Talks next Tuesday (25), despite Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram categorically stating that there will be no talks if the fishermen are not released.

It is learnt that Jayalalithaa has written to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling for immediate intervention of the Centre for the release of the Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy on 19 March.

Director General of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Nimal Hettiarachchi, told Ceylon Today the Tamil Nadu fishermen are repeatedly violating rules and regulations governing fishing in the Indian Ocean and are continuously crossing the Sri Lanka’s International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

“Minister Rajitha Senaratne is firm now and has made a decision not to release the fishermen,” he said.

Hettiarachchi said they will continue with the arrangements for the second round of talks to be held on 25 March. “Any release of the fishermen will have to be arranged between governments,” he said.

In the meantime, Tamil Nadu continues to retain 11 Sri Lankan fishermen in their custody. (Ceylon Today)