The navy arrested 19 Indian fishermen this evening for entering Sri Lankan waters illegally.
Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that the fishermen had crossed the international maritime boundary line off Mannar.
He said the Indians had come on four fishing boats and that they have been handed over to the police for further investigations.
Earlier this week sixteen fishermen, arrested by Sri Lankan Naval personnel for allegedly fishing in the island nation’s international maritime boundary on March 3, were released.
The fishermen had been released following efforts taken by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who twice wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging the Centre to ensure their release.
The latest arrest comes as Indian Defence Minister AK Antony had said in a statement this week that from time to time, there have been reports of incidents of attack on Indian fishermen, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy.
He said the Indian Government has been consistently taking up such issues with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the Sri Lankan Navy acts with restraint and Indian fishermen found near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) are treated in a humane manner.
“In order to avoid recurrence of incidents involving our fishermen and keeping in mind the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions of fishermen issues, Government has reached an understanding with the Government of Sri Lanka in October, 2008, to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bonafide Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL),” he said.
Antony said that as part of these arrangements, it has been agreed that there would be no firing on Indian fishing vessels and that Indian fishing vessels would not enter the sensitive areas designated by the Government of Sri Lanka along its coastline. (Colombo Gazette)