Colombo/Chennai, March 21 (IANS) The Sri Lankan Navy on Tuesday arrested 10 Indian fishermnen and seized their trawler after they allegedly entered the island nation’s territorial waters, officials said.
The arrests occurred post midnight south of Delft Island, off Jaffna in the Sri Lanka’s north. The Indians were later handed over to the Assistant Director of Fisheries in Jaffna.
The arrests came a day after Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera announced that authorities would continue arresting Indian fishermen if they do not stop illegal poaching.
Amaraweera said the government was also looking at resolving the fishing dispute in a diplomatic manner and fresh talks would be held next month.
The latest arrests also came hours before Indian External Affairs Minister Shshma Swaraj met a fishermen’s delegation from Tamil Nadu to discuss frequent alleged attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy.
The fishermen want New Delhi to take urgent steps for the release of 138 Indian fishing vessels seized by Colombo.
The meeting was organised after fishermen agitated across Tamil Nadu to condemn the killing of K. Britjo (21), a fisherman from Thangatchimadam in Rameswaram in alleged firing by the Sri Lankan Navy this month.
Sri Lanka said its Navy was not involved in the firing.
In New Delhi, Sushma Swaraj conveyed to the fishermen that the government’s efforts in the last two years had earlier led to the release of all the boats and fishermen in Sri Lankan custody.
“She assured that the government would remain closely engaged with the Sri Lankan government to secure the release of all Indian boats and fishermen currently in Sri Lankan custody,” a source said.
“She reiterated the government’s commitment for early implementation of the Rs 1,500 crore package to develop deep sea fishing capacities for fishermen in Tamil Nadu.”
The fishermen, accompanied by Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and MPs L. Ganesan and Anwar Rajha, told Sushma Swaraj about the difficulties they faced while fishing in the waters dividing India and Sri Lanka.