India gets consular access to detained fishermen in Lanka
This development has taken place a day after India and Sri Lanka held the fourth round of Joint Working Group meeting
Indian fishermen, detained by Sri Lankan security forces for allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters, have been provided consular access by the Consulate General of India in Jaffna, the Indian High Commission said on Thursday.
“High Commission @CGJaffna were provided Consular Access to Indian fishermen who are apprehended in Sri Lanka and extended all possible support to them. They were given essential daily use items and offered legal and other forms of assistance,” the Indian embassy in Sri Lanka said in a tweet.
High Commission @CGJaffna were provided Consular Access to Indian fishermen who are apprehended in Sri Lanka and extended all possible support to them. They were given essential daily use items and offered legal and other forms of assistance. pic.twitter.com/ukQEnnVALQ— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) December 31, 2020
The step comes a day after a virtual Joint Working Group meeting between the two countries. The Indian side had asked the Sri Lankan side to ensure the early release of 40 fishermen and 6 boats
During the meeting, Indian officials had also reiterated the need for releasing all fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody in line with the commitment given by the Sri Lankan President during his state visit to India in November 2019.
The Indian embassy in Sri Lanka assured that they are working with the government of Sri Lanka for their early release.
“We are working with the Government of Sri Lanka towards their early release,” a subsequent tweet read.
On Wednesday, India and Sri Lanka held the Joint Working Group meeting on fisheries. At the meeting, the Indian delegation was led by Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Secretary, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
The other members of the Indian delegation included senior representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Tamil Nadu, Government of Puducherry, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
The Sri Lankan delegation was led by R M I Rathnayake, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries of the Government of Sri Lanka. The other members of the Sri Lankan delegation were senior officials from their Foreign Ministry, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Navy, Coast Guard and the Department of the Attorney General.
Secretary, Fisheries, Government of India, highlighted that the Indian side remains committed to working constructively with the Sri Lankan side to address all issues related to fishermen and their livelihoods in a humanitarian manner and in line with past understandings.
The Indian side also reiterated the need for releasing all fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody in line with the commitment given by the Sri Lankan President during his state visit to India in November 2019.
The two sides had also exchanged views on the status of cooperation between Navy and Coast Guard of both countries in patrolling, existing hotline between the Coast Guards and related operational matters, cooperation in preservation of marine environment as well as the schedule for the fifth meeting of the JWG.
The Indian side conveyed its sincere determination to work in a constructive spirit with the Sri Lankan side for convening an early meeting of the Fisheries Ministers on both sides.
Both sides agreed that the convening of the JWG on virtual medium to tide over the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic reflected the common desire to utilize the existing bilateral mechanisms and work constructively to address all issues pertaining to fishermen.
Secretary, Fisheries, Government of India, highlighted the initiatives being taken by India under the new Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana and other schemes of Government of India and governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to diversify and reduce fishing pressure in the Palk Bay.
He also informed of initiatives taken for diversification into deep-sea fishing especially by fishermen of the Palk Bay area, infrastructure created to facilitate deep-sea fishing, promotion of alternative livelihood through seaweed cultivation, mariculture and varieties of aquaculture activities.