The Indian government today cautioned Indian fishermen against straying into Sri Lankan waters, especially in those areas designated as "sensitive" by the Sri Lankan Government.
Informing the Rajya Sabha that the number of apprehensions and firing on fishermen in the waters between India and Sri Lanka have come down significantly since the October 2008 bilateral understanding, external affairs minister SM Krishna said a caution from the Indian side was also important.
"...incidents have taken place in Sri Lankan waters where our fishermen stray across the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). It is important that we sensitise our fishermen to respect the IMBL and not stray into Sri Lankan waters for their own safety and security, especially in areas designated as sensitive by the Government of Sri Lanka," he said.
Responding to a Calling Attention notice, he said India has conveyed a similar request to Sri Lanka to sensitise their fishermen who cross the IMBL and enter the Indian waters.
He said the Sri Lankan Government has consistently denied that its Navy has had any responsibility in incidents of firing on Indian fishermen. "They have also stated that their Navy does not enter Indian territorial waters," he said.
Krishna said after the two countries reached an understanding on October 26, 2008 the number of incidents or firing and apprehension on Indian fishermen have dropped. From 1,456 incidents of apprehensions in 2008, the number dropped to 127 in 2009. Till end of July this year, 26 fishermen were apprehended. While five fishermen were killed in 2008, no one was killed or reported missing in 2009.
However, recently there has been a reported incident of killing.
Krishna said Indian government has time and again emphasised to the Sri Lankan Government to "scrupulously adhere to the understanding we have reached and they have assured us of their commitment..."
According to the Understanding on Fishing Arrangements of 2008, both the sides agreed to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bona fide fishermen crossing the IMBL. (PTI)