Sri Lanka’s Navy detains 25 Indian fishermen

Colombo, Jan 3: The Sri Lankan Navy has detained 25 Indian fishermen, an official said here Friday adding to their haul of 180 arrests in December amidst escalating tension between the two countries.

According to Kosala Warnakulasuriya, Sri Lankan Navy spokesman, at least five boats were apprehended and handed over to police, Xinhua reported.

This brings the tally of Indian fishermen arrested while fishing in Sri Lankan waters to 205 with a similar number of Sri Lankan fishermen being detained by the Indian Coast Guard.

The issue of Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen crossing over into each other’s territorial waters to poach fish has existed for years but tensions have spiralled over the last few months with both sides increasing the number of arrests.

Reports have indicated 213 Sri Lankan fishermen with 40 boats are in Indian custody.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Tuesday said her government would extend all help to the centre to facilitate talks between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen in Chennai Jan 20, 2014, to resolve the dispute over fishing rights in either’s territorial waters.

The frequent arrests of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy for maritime violations have been a bone of contention between the centre and the state and have also threatened to strain India-Sri Lanka relations.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chief minister wanted the government to take firm steps to seek the release of fishermen from the state arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.

The state government was awaiting a formal confirmation from the central government on the proposed meeting between the fishermen communities of both India and Sri Lanka.

Thousands of south Indian fishermen have staged protests over the last few weeks, going on strike and fasting, to get the arrested fishermen released.

IANS