03 Feb Hundreds of detained Myanmar fishermen freed by Indian authorities

Written by Subir Bhaumik Published in Regional Read 1894 times
India has freed over 400 Myanmar fishermen caught fishing illegally in Indian waters, part of a programme in which both Myanmar and India free fishermen caught in their waters. The first batch of Myanmar fishermen arrive at Yangon International Airport on January 17, 2015. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima
India has freed over 400 Myanmar fishermen caught fishing illegally in Indian waters, part of a programme in which both Myanmar and India free fishermen caught in their waters. The first batch of Myanmar fishermen arrive at Yangon International Airport on January 17, 2015. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima

Kolkata, India - India has sent back 411 detained Myanmar fishermen from the Andaman-Nicobar archipelago, a senior Myanmar diplomat said February 3.

U Kyaw Thu, Myanmar consul general in Kolkata, told Mizzima that the fishermen were sent back on three successive days in January.

"Our aircraft landed in Port Blair and carried these fishermen back home. Everything had been nicely lined up through prior consultation with the Indian authorities," U Kyaw Thu said.

He said the aircraft landed at Port Blair on January 17, 18 and 19 and flew back the 411 fishermen in three batches.

The Myanmar fishermen were detained in Indian waters.

U Kyaw Thu said he was also in Port Blair to oversee the repatriation that had taken months of diplomatic activity to set up.

Typically, hundreds of Myanmar fishermen stray into Indian territorial waters, while many Indian fishermen also stray into Myanmar waters.

Mostly this happens in the seas between India's Andaman archipelago and Myanmar's Coco Islands.

U Kyaw Thu said many Indian fishermen have also been repatriated from Myanmar in a reciprocal gesture - though he could not say how many.

January's exchange of imprisoned fishermen was the largest single exchange between the two countries in recent years.

Indian diplomats say this reflects improved bilateral relations between the two neighbours.

"These poor fishermen operating on small boats don’t have an idea of territorial waters and neither do they have the equipment to check this out," U Kyaw Thu said, referring to a lack of GPS tracking devices and maps.

“So it is good if they are not detained too long because that affects their livelihood," he said.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 14:54