More Indians arrested for poaching

The Navy arrested a group of Indian fishermen for poaching in Sri Lankan waters, some 24 hours after another group of Indian fishermen had also been arrested.

The navy said that 30 Indian fishermen were arrested along with 05 Indian fishing Trawlers while they were engaged in illegal fishing in the Northern seas late last night.

A navy spokesman said that the fishermen were handed over to the Talaimannar Police for legal action.

The Navy had early last morning arrested 26 Indian fishermen who were poaching in Sri Lankan waters off Karinagar.

The Navy said that the Indians were on 5 trawlers when they were detected and arrested for entering Sri Lankans waters illegally.

Fishermen from both countries often stray into each other’s territory as both countries are divided by a small strip of sea.

Indian fishermen say India’s gifting of the Katchatheevu Island to Sri Lanka in the ’70s has reduced fishing space available for Indian fishermen.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been demanding retrieval of the island, has mooted the idea of entering into a long-term lease agreement with the Sri Lankan government so that Indian fishermen could legally use Sri Lankan waters for fishing.

Last month Sri Lanka released a group of Indian fishermen who were arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

The release came a day after India summoned Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi and lodged a strong protest over the arrests. They had asked Sri Lanka that the fishermen be released at the earliest.

Separately, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony had said last month that the country’s government had urged Sri Lanka to direct its navy to act with restraint and not to fire on Indian fishermen sailing along the International Maritime Boundary Line.

“The government continues to remain engaged with the government of Sri Lanka to ensure that fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner,” he told the Indian parliament.

His comments came after Indian fishermen accused the Sri Lankan navy of attacking them when they stray into Sri Lankan waters. The Navy denied the allegations. (Colombo Gazette)