Lankan foreign minister asks India to release 51 fishermen

  • T V Sriram, PTI, Colombo
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 16, 2009 19:05 IST

Sri Lanka has sought the assistance of New Delhi for early release of its 51 fishermen caught near Andaman and Nicobar Islands after they had illegally strayed into Indian waters.

During his meeting with Indian High Commissioner Alok Prasad early this week, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama requested for the the release of the Sri Lankan fishermen.

Sri Lanka has also made an appeal to free the nine fishing vessels seized from them.

Recently at a parliamentary debate in Colombo, a Sri Lankan Minister said it will not antagonise New Delhi on the issue of its fishermen straying into Indian waters and said it favoured an amicable settlement on the vexed issue. In June, India decided to release 28 Sri Lankan fishermen who were arrested after straying into Indian waters.

"We cannot antagonise India. New Delhi has always taken the initiative in trying to curb its fishermen from coming into our (Sri Lankan) waters. We have to settle the problem amicably with India," the Sri Lankan fisheries minister Felix Perera said.

Sri Lanka never permits its fishermen to go to India, the minister said adding every time it had pay for the air ticket to get its (Lankan) straying fishermen from India that would impose an additional cost for the government.

According to officials in Colombo, Sri Lankan fishermen on many occasions inadvertently stray into Indian waters in pursuit of a good catch and get apprehended by the coast guards.

 

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