India and Sri Lanka have struck a cautious note on resolving the issue of fishermen straying into each other’s territorial waters as the two sides looked at long term solutions, banking on fishermen associations from both sides finding a possible way out.
“We discussed the fishermen’s issue. This complex issue involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides. We should handle it from this perspective. At the same time, we need to find a long term solution to this issue,” Prime Minister Modi said in his media statement after holding talks with President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday.
“It is also important that fishermen’s associations of India and Sri Lanka meet at the earliest to find a mutually acceptable arrangement,” he added.
Lankan President Sirisena, who had ordered release of 86 fishermen as a goodwill gesture ahead of Modi’s visit, did not make any comments on the issue.
Subsequently, Modi will meet former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday, the concluding day of his two-day visit to the island nation.
Meanwhile, Modi on Friday held a long meeting with Tamil leaders, who urged India to pitch-in for early devolution of power for the Tamil minorities. “For over sixty years, this issue is lingering. It needs urgent redress,” veteran leader of the Tamil National Alliance A Sampanthan said after meeting Modi.
The leaders also demanded the army vacated the land of the civilians in the Northern Province and give it back to them to eke out their livelihood. “The Sri Lankan army is now also using the land to cultivate and sell the produce in the markets,” said TNA leader Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran.