Seeking to work out a permanent solution to the vexatious fishermen issue, the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs convened an ‘internal stakeholders’ meeting on the Indian side in New Delhi today (Friday).
The division had invited a 13-member delegation – five mechanised and country boat fishermen leaders from Ramanathapuram, four from Nagapattinam, two from Pudukottai, one each from Thanjavur and Union Territory of Puducherry, for the meeting, likely to be chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The delegates were scheduled to leave for Delhi from Chennai this morning, sources said.
Those who were called for discussion included U. Arulanandham, president of Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), former MLA M. Ilango from Puducherry and fishermen leaders P. Sesu Raja, N. Devadoss, M.S. Arul and S.P. Royappan from Rameswaram, the sources told The Hindu .
State Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar and senior officials from the Fisheries Department had a discussion with the delegation in Chennai on Thursday. Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh was expected to co-chair the Delhi meeting, the source said.
The meeting had been convened pursuant to the decision taken at the India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission meeting in February, which was reiterated at the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in New Delhi on May 13, the sources said.
As advised by the External Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare would be inviting the Sri Lankan Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development to visit India for bilateral talks and talks with the fishermen associations of India and Sri Lanka, the sources said.
Rameswaram fishermen, who had been abstaining from fishing since July 22, protesting against the continued arrest of fishermen by the Lankan navy and demanding the release of all the arrested fishermen and their trawlers, would launch an indefinite fast on July 30, after seeing the outcome of the Friday’s meeting, a fishermen leader said. (Colombo Gazette)