Sri Lanka fishermen reject talk offer by Indian counterparts


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Sri Lankan fishing community representatives in Colombo have rejected a request by their Indian counterparts to visit them to discuss their issues, including poaching.

Vinayagamurthi Sahadevan, a Sri Lankan fishing organisation official in the northern town of Vavuniya, said they rejected the proposal since it will be a futile attempt.

“When the prime ministers of the two countries could not sort out the problem, how can we fishing community representatives resolve,” Sahadevan asked. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India last week, his first official visit abroad since winning the Parliamentary Election in August. Sahadevan said for the talks to be meaningful, Sri Lankan fisheries official also need to be included in the talks.

“The two fishing community representatives will not be able to achieve any solution,” Shadevan said. Sahadevan lamented that details of discussions on this long-standing problem held between the Sri Lankan and Indian leaders had not been conveyed to local fishing organisations.

Sri Lanka complains of regular illegal fishing by Indian fishermen inside its waters. Sri Lanka Navy often arrests scores of Indian fishermen for poaching. Sri Lanka accuses the fishermen from Tamil Nadu of straying into their territorial waters, while the latter maintain they are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Colombo in 1974. Sri Lankan fishermen say when they get arrested in India no swift legal action takes place and blame the Sri Lankan authorities for negligence of duty.

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