Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has promised to facilitate a meeting between fishermen’s representatives from Tamil Nadu and Jaffna to prevent the arrest of fishermen from both sides who often strayed into each other’s territories, Congress MP K.S. Alagiri told The Hindu newspaper.
During a 45-minute meeting with Congress MP K.S. Alagiri and Sri Lankan Minister Senthil Thondaman of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Mr. Rajapaksa had said it was poor fishermen from Tamil Nadu who normally bore the brunt of the conflict.
“They come in big trawlers owned by businessmen. While the owners remain safe in India, these poor fishermen get arrested for straying into waters of Sri Lanka. They suffer and nobody bothers to pay them when they are in jail,” Mr Alagiri quoted Mr. Rajapaksa as saying.
Alagiri said when he mentioned his discussion with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his proposal for allowing Tamil fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters 15 days a month, Mr Basil Rajapaksa also appreciated the suggestion.
But he had pointed out that fishermen from Tamil Nadu, equipped with big trawlers and modern facilities, always had a great harvest in Jaffna area and this would ultimately lead to depletion of fish in the sea.
On the other hand, the fishermen from Jaffna possessed only country boats and it was their grievance that Indian fishermen deprived them of their livelihood.
“He wanted me to organise a delegation of fishermen and he agreed to facilitate a meeting with their counterparts in Jaffna. The government will not interfere in the issue in any manner,” said Mr. Alagiri, who was in Sri Lanka to take part in the centenary celebrations of CWC founder Saumyamoorthy Thondaman.