Sri Lanka may consider releasing the Indian boats in its custody soon after verifying details of ownership, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Wednesday.
“I have given a list of the boat numbers and their owners to the Defence Secretary, explaining that many of them belong to poor fishermen and not rich trawler-owners,” he said, after a meeting with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, and brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“They will verify if the names listed are of the actual owners. If that is true, they will be inclined to release the boats,” Dr. Swamy said.
Over the last year, Sri Lanka followed the policy of releasing Indian fishermen — arrested by its Navy for alleged poaching — early, but retaining their trawlers to deter them from the practice. Over 80 Indian trawlers are in Sri Lankan custody now. A group of fishermen met him recently with a list of some of those trawlers owned by them, Dr. Swamy said.
The BJP leader was in Colombo to deliver the Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Lecture on ‘SAARC reforms and globalisation.’
Dr. Swamy said he discussed the issue of terrorism with the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary as India and Sri Lanka faced the “same problem.”
“We discussed how to ensure communal harmony and at the same time curb Islamic terrorism,” he said.
Dr. Swamy said he also sought the Mr. Rajapaksa’s perspective on the Chinese submarines that recently docked in the Colombo Port, causing serious concern to India. (The Hindu)