As diplomatic parleys continued to seek the release of the 23 Indian fishermen detained by Sri Lankan navy earlier this week, the high commissioner of the island nation to Delhi, Prasad Kariyawasam, on Wednesday said that the joint patrolling by Indian Coast Guard and the Sri Lankan Navy could be the answer to settle the problem of fishermen.
The fishermen's issue has become a nagging problem for Indian diplomacy. In an interview, the candid envoy blamed commercial interests in Tamil Nadu for the fishermen straying into Sri Lankan territorial waters.
After the recent face-offs with Italy and the United States following the death of Indian fishermen, now it is the arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka forces that has caused another bout of diplomatic tussle.
Even as New Delhi increased heat on Colombo over the issue, the envoy said, “We are working to expedite the release of the fishermen and it should happen by next week. There is a judicial process involved.”
“Crossing the international maritime boundary line is the bottom line... While we are dealing this issue in a humane manner, our navy is duty bound to prevent illegal fishing,” Kariyawasam said.
On Tuesday Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue as the politicians from the state have been dubbing the government's attitude on the issue as ‘spineless’..
“Clashes between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen are happening on the high seas. I Appeal to Tamil Nadu fishermen not to cross into Sri Lankan waters. They should desist from illegal fishing methods and we need to ban bottom trawling which is having an impact on the marine life of Palk Straits,” the envoy said.
He also indicated that he expected some humane treatment for the Sri Lankan fishermen as well.
“We also have 12 Sri Lankan fishermen languishing in Andhra Pradesh for last six months and some in Gujarat. Individual states have a different way of dealing with the issue,” he said. (Headlines Today)