Sri Lanka releases 55 Indian fishermen for Pongal

Colombo, Jan 15 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government on Friday said it has released 55 Indian fishermen from its custody in view of Tamil harvest festival Pongal.

Officials from the ministry of fisheries and aquatic resources told Xinhua that the fishermen were detained by Sri Lankan authorities after being caught illegally poaching in local waters.

There are still 104 fishermen in Sri Lankan custody. They are to be released in the next few days.

The Sri Lanka Navy often arrests Indian fishermen, mostly from the Indian southern state of Tamil Nadu, for violating the International Maritime Boundary Line and enter the island nation’s waters for poaching.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Mahinda Amaraweera recently said he requested the navy and cost guard to initiate strict actions after the Tamil festival, locally known as Thai Pongal, to arrest Indian fishermen who violate the International Maritime Boundary Line and enter local waters for fishing.

The minister said the fishermen in the north of the country could not gather a proper fish harvest since their Indian counterparts were continuously engaging in illegal fishing methods to fish in Sri Lankan waters.

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