India says Lanka told not to fire

The Indian government says the Sri Lankan nay has been told not to fire on Indian fishing vessels.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today said that from time to time there are reports of incidents of attack on Indian fishermen, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy.

He said that 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, the 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.

He also said that the Indian Coast Guard provides assistance to Indian fishermen at sea while they are in distress through regular patrolling.

It also conducts Community Interactions Programmes to educate fishermen among other issues, on the perils of cross border fishing.

Under operation Tasha’, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships are deployed continuously (24X7) in the Palk Bay area to prevent any illegal activities and also to protect the fishermen from any attacks, while they are fishing in Indian waters. (Colombo Gazette)