Rajapaksa sets free 78 fishermen

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo: President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday ordered the release of 78 Indian fishermen held by the navy for allegedly poaching into Sri Lankan waters as a goodwill gesture to mark the joint session of the Indian Parliament.

The decision came a day after chief minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Modi seeking a “permanent solution” to the thorny issue.

“On the occasion of the 1st joint sitting of Indian Parliament, I have instructed officials to release the 78 Indian fishermen in SL custody,” Rajapaksa tweeted and said in another tweet: “I look  forward to the release of all remaining #SriLankan fishermen  in #Indian custody at the earliest.”

In her letter on Sunday, Jayalalithaa cited the most recent arrest of 82 fishermen by Lankan navy in two separate incidents. “As an immediate measure, I request you to kindly ensure that India registers the strongest disapproval of the belligerent actions of the Lankan navy,” she told the PM, adding that a permanent solution to the problem “must be found by a decisive initiative under your leadership.”

Rajapaksa had previously ordered the release of fishermen in late March when India abstained at the UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka.

(Source: Deccan Chronicle)