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Stalin urges EAM to take steps for release of 37 Indian fishermen from Lankan prisons

It is imperative that urgent diplomatic initiatives are taken to resolve this festering issue, Stalin told Jaishankar, reiterating the need to revitalise the Joint Working Group that was set up to address the issue of fishermen getting arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.
Last Updated : 24 June 2024, 10:01 IST

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Chennai:As many as 22 fishermen from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly fishing in its water after crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), taking the number of fishers arrested by the neighbouring country in the past one week to 37.

Four Indian fishermen from Pudukkottai district were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy last week on similar charges. The fishermen had set out for fishing in mechanised boats from various fishing harbours after the end of the mandatory 61-day fishing ban in the east coast of Tamil Nadu.

The fishermen are alleged to have crossed into Sri Lankan waters and were apprehended by the island nation’s Navy in Neduntheevu, which is an island in northern Sri Lanka surrounded by shallow waters and beaches of coral chunks and sand.

The 22 fishermen, who set out in three mechanised trawlers from the Rameswaram fishing harbour on June 22, were arrested on June 23 and taken to Kangesanthurai harbour in Jaffna, the capital city of Sri Lanka’s northern province. All three boats have been impounded by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Chief Minister M K Stalin wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday to highlight that the incidents of arrests and intimidation have been continuing unabated resulting in loss of livelihoods.

“I would also like to inform that permission is yet to be granted for the salvage boats and crew for bringing back the released boats from Sri Lanka. The requests of various Fishermen Associations in Tamil Nadu to visit the fishermen jailed in Sri Lanka, to provide them with some consolation and certain basic needs, may be proactively considered,” he said.

It is imperative that urgent diplomatic initiatives are taken to resolve this festering issue, Stalin told Jaishankar, reiterating the need to revitalise the Joint Working Group that was set up to address the issue of fishermen getting arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Arrest of Indian fishermen from Pudukkottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, and Ramanathapuram districts by the Sri Lankan Navy is a recurring affair. The fishermen cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and step into Sri Lankan waters as the fish catch is abundant on the other side.

The Ministry of External Affairs maintains that the government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and welfare of Indian fishermen and that the issue of fishermen has been taken up at the highest level.

“Sri Lankan Government has been requested to treat the fishermen issue as a purely humanitarian and livelihood concern, and it has been stressed that both sides should ensure that there is no use of force under any circumstances,” the ministry had said last year.

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Published 24 June 2024, 10:01 IST

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