136 Indian fishermen released by Sri Lanka

Colombo, Feb 18 (PTI) Sri Lanka today released 136Indian fishermen who were apprehended for allegedly poachingin this country''s waters, a day after India conveyed its deepconcern over their detention and sought their release.

The Indian fishermen along with their boats werereleased by Sri Lankan authorities after a court order.

They will be escorted to Indian maritime border by theSri Lankan Navy later this afternoon, a defence official said.

The move followed a high-level meeting between the SriLankan defence official and Indian diplomats in Colombo.

Out of the 136 Indian fishermen, 112 were caught lastTuesday by a group of local fishermen and handed over to thepolice there.

Reacting to the incident, India yesterday conveyed its"deep concern" over the detention of fishermen and asked theSri Lankan government to take "necessary" steps to get themreleased.

"I have just had a telephonic conversation with theMinister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka (G L Peiris) and Ihave conveyed India''s deep concern at the detention of nearly136 fishermen in Jaffna district," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had said in New Delhi.

"I have also conveyed my deep regret that Sri Lankannationals and Sri Lankan fishermen have taken law into theirown hands and confronted our fishermen," Krishna said.

The arrests had triggered protests in Tamil Nadu whereover 5,000 DMK workers, including party MPs Kanimozhi and T KS Elangovan, had been arrested when they tried to takeout a rally to the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

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

This had triggered a flurry of diplomatic activitybetween the two south Asian neighbours following which ForeignSecretary Nirupama Rao visited Colombo to seek assurances toprevent such incidents in future.

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