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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2672

Not a single Indian fishermen killed in SL waters since 2011 – Indian Defence Minister

New Delhi, 28 July, (Asiantribune.com):

Arun Jaitly India’s Defence Minister categorically stated that No cases of deaths of Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters have been reported since April 2011.

The Defence Minister reminded the Lok Sabha that the Indian government, while keeping in mind the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions of fishermen issues, has reached an understanding with the Sri Lankan government in October 2008 to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bona fide Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and avoid recurrence of incidents involving Indian fishermen.

The two countries 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 Sri Lankan government along its coastline.
Jaitley told the assembly that the government, as a result of its continuous efforts, has secured the release of all 676 Indian fishermen arrested in 2013 and 536 Indian fishermen (out of 541 arrested till 18.07.2014) from Sri Lankan custody.

He said an India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) has been established since 2004 to deal with issues relating to straying fishermen; work out modalities for prevention of use of force against them, the early release of confiscated boats and to explore possibilities of working towards a bilateral agreement for licensed fishing.

Additionally, two rounds of India-Sri Lanka Fishermen’s Associations talks have taken place in Chennai in January 2014 and in Colombo in May towards resolution of the issue.

The Defence Minister said the Indian Coast Guard provides assistance to Indian fishermen at sea while they are in distress through regular patrolling and also conducts Community Interaction Programs to educate fishermen among other issues, on the perils of cross border fishing.

Under operation ‘Tasha’, Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships are deployed continuously in Palk Bay to prevent any illegal activities and also to protect the Indian fisherman from any attacks, while they are fishing in Indian waters, the Defence Minister told the Lok Sabha.

Not a single fisherman from TN has been killed by the Sri Lankan Navy since April 2011

Even earlier, the Central Government has informed the Madras HC (Madurai Bench) that Not a single fisherman from TN has been killed by the Sri Lankan Navy since April 2011 in Indian waters. Further no warships were being sold to Lanka and only Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPVs) would be traded.

The submissions were made in a counter affidavit filed by Mayank Joshi, Deputy Secretary (Sri Lanka) on behalf of the Union Ministries of External Affairs and Defence in response to a petition seeking to stop the proposed sale of warships to Sri Lanka.

The petitioner had expressed apprehension that the warships could be used by the Island Nation to attack TN fishermen, who were repeatedly fired at in mid-sea by the Navy. Denying the charges, Joshi said the ICG ships on patrol duty had not come across incidents of Indian fishermen being fired upon while fishing in Indian waters. Further he said the Lankan Navy had categorically stated that it never entered Indian waters. Besides, the Island Nation’s Navy had assured that they have been adhering to a “No Firing” policy on Indian fishermen.

The affidavit said that the Indian Government had reached a mutual understanding with the Sri Lankan Navy. As per this the latter would not open fire at Indian fishing vessels and Indian fishermen would not venture into sensitive areas.

Stating that the IMBL was being regularly patrolled by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for the safety of Indian fishermen, Joshi said, “It is only as a result of these efforts of the Government, that no cause of deaths of Indian Fishermen has been reported after April 2011.”

Therefore, he contended that apprehension of the petitioner that the warships would be used to kill Indian fishermen was baseless. The affidavit said the OPV is only 105.7 mtr in length with a cruising speed of 12-14 knots and it is not a warship. Hence the Centre prayed the HC to dismiss the petition.

- Asian Tribune -

Arun Jaitly India’s Defence Minister
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