Colombo: Seventy three Indian fishermen have been arrested in Sri Lanka for allegedly poaching into the country’s waters, the Navy said today, days after it released 33 fishermen from the country.
Navy spokesman Kosala Waranakulasuriya said that 41 Indian fishermen were arrested off the coast of Talaimannar in the north while another 32 fishermen were arrested off the Delft Islands yesterday.
Fifteen fishing vessels have also been confiscated. The fishermen arrested in Delft were being brought to the Kankesanturai port while others would be handed over to the fisheries inspection office at Talaimannar.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last had ordered the release of Indian fishermen arrested as a goodwill gesture.
Rajapaksa had attended the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 in Delhi.
Talks between India and Sri Lanka on the fishermen issue had ended in deadlock early last month and negotiators arescheduled to meet again this month.
Sri Lanka had shot down a request from Tamil Nadu fishermen to allow fishing in Lankan waters for 70 days a year and to allow bottom trawling.
The Naval personnel had on June one arrested 33 fishermen in two separate incidents while they were fishing near Katchatheevu. However, a court in Sri Lanka freed them on June 4 after the President ordered their release.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan fishing community lament the lack of a consistent programme in releasing the Indian fishermen.
Anton Jesudasan of the north eastern fisheries federation said although Sri Lanka has taken swift action with regard to Indian fishermen, authorities have turned a blind eye to the question of locals arrested by the Indians for the same offence.