Colombo: The 37 Tamil Nadu fishermen detained in Sri Lanka were released by a court in Point Pedro in Jaffna district on Friday, following a swap agreement with India under which 16 Lankan fishermen jailed in India will also be released, Indian officials told Express.
Indian and Lankan officials worked on the swap after Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena promised to release the 37 Indian fishermen on May 12, when he met a delegation of six Indian fishermen led by N.Devadas and Yesuraja of Rameswaram.
The private meeting with the President had been arranged by S.P.Anthonymuthu of the Indo-Lanka Fishermen’s Welfare Forum and the Lankan Minister of Resettlement D.M.Swaminathan.
The released fishermen, who are from Nagapattinam, will be handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at the Maritime Boundary Line on Saturday, officials said.
Swapping is one way of securing the release Lankan fishermen held in India. Every time India asks Sri Lanka to release its fishermen, Lankans ask why India is not releasing Lankan fishermen in its custody.
Under normal circumstances, it is difficult to get fishermen released from Indian jails partly because they may be in more than one state, and partly because law and order is a State subject. In Sri Lanka, on the contrary, release is simpler as law and order is not a devolved subject at least de facto, and the Executive President can ask the Attorney General to withdraw cases filed by the government to enable the courts to release the fishermen.