India asks Sri Lanka to free fishermen
New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) India Thursday asked Sri Lanka to release 23 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested on charges of entering the island nation's waters on humanitarian grounds.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna asked India's High Commissioner in Colombo Ashok Kantha to take up the issue with authorities in Colombo.
Kantha met Sri Lankan officials and pressed for the release of the fishermen.
In New Delhi, the external affairs ministry took up the issue again with the Sri Lankan high commission, said official sources here.
With Krishna proactively intervening on this issue, India is hoping for an early release of fishermen.
The Sri Lanka Navy allegedly chased some Indian fishing boats and arrested the 23 fishermen when they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Straits Saturday midnight.
They were produced in a Mannar court Monday and remanded till Aug 6.
Fishermen associations in Rameswaram have mounted pressure, calling for an indefinite strike till the fishermen, including the five held on drug peddling charges Nov 11, were released.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voicing concern over "unrelenting, harsh attitude of the Sri Lankan Navy" towards Indian fishermen.