On Day Jayalalithaa Meets Modi, Sri Lanka Releases Indian Fishermen as 'Goodwill Measure'

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On Day Jayalalithaa Meets Modi, Sri Lanka Releases Indian Fishermen as 'Goodwill Measure'

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Delhi on May 25

Chennai:  Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the release of 29 Indian fishermen who were arrested by the country's Navy a few days ago for allegedly trespassing into Lankan waters.

Mr Rajapaksa has described the move as a "goodwill measure".

The fishermen, who are from Tamil Nadu, will be released today, the day Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.

During her meeting with Mr Modi, Ms Jayalalithaa is expected to bring up the issue of  detention of Indian fishermen by the Lankan Navy for fishing in the island nation's waters.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Sunday, Ms Jayalalithaa had called for a "decisive shift in stand" on the issue, as against the "meek response" by the earlier United Progressive Alliance or UPA regime.

Ms Jayalalithaa has claimed that 33 fishermen have been detained by Sri Lanka; the Lankan authorities are going to release 29 of them.

Nearly 600 Indian fishermen have lost their lives to attacks by the Lankan Navy over the last few decades, according to government figures.

Sri Lankan authorities claim that Indian fishermen affect the livelihood of local fishermen who are trying to rebuild their lives after the end of the civil war.

But fishermen in Tamil Nadu believe that they have traditional fishing rights to fish in Lankan waters.

India had earlier unsuccessfully sought a lease agreement with the island nation so that fishermen from Tamil Nadu could be allowed to legally fish in Lankan waters.

The Sri Lankan President had ordered the release of all fishermen before his recent visit to India, to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on May 26. 

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