Colombo, Dated 4th June (PTI) – Fishermen poaching, the most talked about issue between India and Sri Lanka is to be resolved soon. Sri Lanka will soon issue licences to Indian fishermen. This will serve as a solution for the fisher tribe who face serious repercussions from the Sri Lankan navy, when they accidentally cross over the Lankan maritime boundaries. The Sri Lankan navy either attacks or arrests these fishermen who are seen as trespassers. Since fishing is the only source of livelihood for this population, the Indian government has requested Sri Lanka to address this issue with a humanitarian approach.
The Sri Lankan government on many occasions has cautioned the Indian fishermen for encroaching the Sri Lankan maritime boundaries. The Indian fishermen have been harassed in many ways for this act; their nets would get confiscated and at the same time they would also get arrested. Till date many Indian fishermen have lost their lives during the attacks made by the Sri Lankan navy and a large number are still languishing in Sri Lankan prisons.
The Indian fishermen claim that they are following the traditional norms of fishing and also operate within the prescribed fishing boundaries; hence; they should not be deprived of their rights. This issue has been the cause of conflict between India and Sri Lanka for many years and lately has become a very grave matter. The Indian government has been trying to resolve this dispute through discussions. The Indian government has also initiated talks with the current Maithripala Sirisena government. All earlier talks have been in vain and without arriving at any decision. The Indian government continues to pursue with the proposal, that this matter should be resolved on humanitarian grounds.
The Sri Lankan Prime minister, Mr.Ranil Wickremesing he has issued an advisory that all Indian fishermen who enter the Sri Lankan waters should be shot. Despite such inflammatory statements, the Indian government carried on gamely with dialogue and requested the Sri Lankan government to resolve this issue on humanitarian grounds. This matter was also debated on during the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka. This was the prime issue of discussion even during the Sri Lankan president’s visit to India. The external affairs minister Mrs.Sushma Swaraj also has been addressing this matter on a regular basis. The fishermen subject has been placed regularly in front of a high level committee and now a solution is finally being seen to this problem.
The Sri Lankan government is likely to issue limited licenses to the Indian trawlers. Mr.Karunasena Hettiarachchi, secretary to the ministry of defence, has informed that the necessary structural processes are being incorporated by the Sri Lankan government, in order to issue such licences to the Indian trawlers. But till date no confirmation has been received on this subject that is considered so critical by both the countries. The Sri Lankan government has claimed that they have handed over the technical information to the Indian government. It has been given through the Indian embassy.
One similar proposal has also been submitted to the Sri Lankan government by the Indian government. It is probable that the solution suggested by India would be largely opposed by Sri Lanka.