No Indian fisherman is in Sri Lankan custody and the government is engaged with the neighbouring nation to ensure that the fisherfolk carry on their livelihood safely, India Parliament was informed on Thursday.
"Presently, there are no Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody on fisheries related charges. However, some Indian nationals have been arrested in Sri Lankan waters on charges of smuggling narcotics and contrabands," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in Rajya Sabha.
He said officials from Indian High Commission in Colombo and Consulate in Jaffna are in regular touch with detained Indian nationals and extending all possible consular and legal assistance to them, he said. Amid uproar in the House, Krishna tabled the statement in response to a Calling Attention Motion by V Maitreyan (AIADMK) and another member. He said the government and the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka have consistently taken up issues relating to incidents of firing or apprehension of Indian fishermen with Sri Lankan government so that its navy acts with restraint and the fishermen are treated in a humane manner. "...as soon as the reports of apprehension of Indian fishermen are received, the government through diplomatic channels takes up the matter of their expeditious release and repatriation with Sri Lankan authorities," he said.
"As a result, fishermen apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy have been released and repatriated expeditiously," he said. The minister said India continues to remain engaged with Sri Lanka to ensure fishermen on both sides "continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner".(PTI)