With Sri Lanka seeking time to finalise the list of representatives for the much-anticipated fishermen’s associations meeting aimed at resolving the issue of fishing rights in the Palk Straits, the Tamil Nadu government on Saturday said the discussions would be held on January 27 and not on Monday as announced originally.
The decision was taken based on a communication from the Centre that Sri Lanka had sought time to finalise its list of representatives, an official release said.
On January 17, the External Affairs Ministry had confirmed its representatives for the meeting scheduled in Chennai, but in another communication the same day, it informed that Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne had returned home only on Friday morning after his India visit.
Sri Lankan government had, therefore, sought time to finalise its list of fishermen representatives for the meeting and sought for postponing the January 20 discussions, the release said, quoting the EAM communication.
“Based on the Centre’s letter, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has directed that talks between fishermen (association) representatives of India and Sri Lanka scheduled in Chennai on January 20 be held on January 27,” the release said, adding that the State government had conveyed its decision to the Union government through a letter.
With the two countries agreeing for the mutual release of fishermen from both countries lodged in jails in India and Sri Lanka, the State government had initiated steps in this regard, the release said.
On the directions of Ms. Jayalalithaa, 113 out of 179 Sri Lankan fishermen have been released from the state jails while 173 Indians, hailing from Tamil Nadu and Karaikal (Puducherry) have been freed by Sri Lanka, it said.
The other Indian and Lankan fishermen still lodged in both countries’ prisons would be released shortly, it added.