Thursday, December 14, 2023

Sri Lankan Navy detains 25 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

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The Sri Lankan Navy apprehended 25 Indian fishermen and seized their two trawlers while they were fishing in international waters near Point Pedro town in Sri Lanka.

As per the Sri Lankan Navy, the detained fishermen were reportedly engaged in ‘illegal poaching’ and were apprehended following a special operation conducted on Saturday night. In an official press release, the navy stated, “The Navy continues to conduct regular patrols and operations in Sri Lankan waters to curb illegal fishing practices by foreign fishing trawlers, taking into account the consequences of these practices on the livelihood of local fishermen and marine resources of the country.”

The 25 fishermen, hailing from Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district in Puducherry, were taken into custody. Subsequently, they were transported to the Kankasanthurai harbor, where they are slated to be handed over to the Mailadi Fisheries Inspector for subsequent legal proceedings.

Concerns are mounting among the relatives of the detained fishermen, who have appealed to both the central and state governments for assistance in securing the release of the fishermen and their two lifeboats. The plea comes after last month’s release of 27 Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, with their return to Chennai airport occurring on separate days in groups of 12 and 15.

This incident follows a series of arrests in October, where a total of 64 fishermen from Rameshwaram and Mandapam were apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy in three separate incidents. The arrests were reportedly made on charges of cross-border fishing, leading to the confiscation of their boats and fishing gear.

The Sri Lankan Navy has detained a total of 33 Indian trawlers and 220 Indian fishermen in the year 2023 thus far, according to the statement. The consistent arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy remain a source of concern for both the Tamil Nadu government and the BJP-led central government.

In October, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin addressed the issue in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The communication highlighted the recurring problem of Tamil Nadu fishermen being apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy. Additionally, the Chief Minister reiterated the demand for safeguarding the traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay region.

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