Another fresh Lankan abduction-count 24

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Colombo, Feb 17: In a move that could trigger fresh outrage in India, Sri Lankan Police has detained another 24 Indian fishermen, taking the total number of Tamil Nadu fishermen in their custody in the past two days to 136.

A group of local Sri Lankan fishermen Wednesday apprehended the Indian fishermen along with their seven boats and handed them over to the Ilawalai police in northern Jaffna peninsula.

On Tuesday, a group of local fishermen had apprehended 112 Indian fishermen who had allegedly strayed into Sri Lankan waters, triggering protests in Tamil Nadu, where the fishermen hailed from.

All the 112 fishermen were produced before a Point Pedro Magistrate court in Jaffna yesterday and remanded to judicial custody until Feb 28.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that India takes a "very serious view" of the Sri Lankan Navy apprehending Indian fishermen and would be taking up the matter with the Lankan government.

Singh said that the Sri Lankan government has already been told in strong terms that such a behaviour was not acceptable.

"I have been told that 118 fishermen have been taken into custody. We are taking up this matter with the Sri Lankan Government. We take a very serious view," he had said.

The arrests had triggered protests in Tamil Nadu where over 5,000 DMK workers, including party MPs Kanimozhi and TKS Elangovan, were arrested yesterday, when they tried to take out a rally to Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission protesting the alleged abduction of over 100 Indian fishermen to Sri Lanka.

India had last month accused the Sri Lankan Navy of killing at least two Indian fishermen.

The incident had triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity between the two south Asian neighbours. Following which, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Colombo to seek assurances to prevent such incidents in future.

PTI

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