Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 28 February 2016





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Govt not perturbed by Indian fisher protest

The government will not be perturbed by threats from Indian fishermen over an impending protest to be staged opposite the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office in Chennai today and will not release any boats that have been seized so far.

Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said foreign vessels will not be permitted to fish in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. “Most of these protests are backed by political parties in South India and we will not be perturbed because they agitate.” he said.

He said the government will release the Indian fishermen who are in custody here but will not release any boats or fishing equipment that have been seized. “There is no reason for us to engage with these fishermen, we want to speak to the Central government on the steps that should be taken.”

Some 200 fishermen and owners of 79 boats which are in Sri Lankan custody are to assemble along with family members before the Deputy High Commissioners office today. The fishermen are reported to have said the protest would be an outcry over the Central Government’s silence on the matter.

Their protests come days after the courts in Sri Lanka re-remanded fishermen from Rameswaram and Pudukottai.

In a counter-move to the protest in India, fisher associations in Sri Lanka are planning to stage a protest outside the Consulate General of India in Jaffna tomorrow and another protest in Colombo on March 8 calling on the government to deter Indian fishermen from fishing in Sri Lankan waters.

During the ninth meeting of the India-Lanka Joint Commission chaired by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Minister Amaraweera was invited to visit India in a bid to resolve the issues. “I don’t see any reason as to why I need to go there, I saw at first hand how Indian fishermen trespassed in our waters and how they even tried to attack the boat we were travelling in. All we need is an immediate solution.”

During the Joint Commission meeting, External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary Renu Pall said problems relating to fishing were discussed and both sides agreed to look at the issue from the livelihood and humanitarian points of view and come to an innovative solution.

However, this solution is yet to see the light of day,” the Minister said.


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