Five fishermen arrested in India

Five Sri Lankan fishermen have been arrested by Indian authorities after they strayed into Indian waters, the Sri Lankan Fisheries Department said.

Assistant Director of the Department of Fisheries Lal de Silva said that the fishermen had been arrested just off Andra Pradesh along India’s southeastern coast over the weekend.

“We expect the fishermen to be released within the next two weeks. Usually it takes two weeks for our fishermen to be freed when they enter Indian territorial waters illegally,” he said.

Sri Lanka and India have an agreement on dealing with fishermen who stray into the waters of both countries.

“After the agreement was reached India does not imprison Sri Lankan fishermen. Instead the normal formalities are carried out by the authorities and they are sent back to Sri Lanka,” de Silva said.

Sri Lankan fishermen most often cross the Maritime Boundary Line and enter the waters in Southern India.

According to de Silva there are 26 Sri Lankan fishermen being held in the southern Indian Tamil Nadu state and he expressed hope that those fishermen will also be released soon.

Sri Lanka and India have been trying to address the fishing issue over the past few years mostly after Indian fishermen accused the Sri Lankan navy of attacking them when they stray into Sri Lankan waters.

The navy has however maintained that those allegations were baseless.