20 Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy

As many as 20 Indian fishermen were arrested on Saturday night on charges of poaching north of Mannar, Sri Lankan Navy sources on Sunday said.

Four trawlers in their possession were confiscated, according to Navy spokesperson Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya.

With Saturday’s arrests, a total of 37 Indian fishermen are in Sri Lankan custody now, facing charges of engaging in illegal fishing activity.

The ongoing Palk Bay conflict is likely to figure in discussions between Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, scheduled to visit India later this week, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Amid speculation over India reportedly considering a proposal on allowing Indian fishermen to fish around Katchatheevu after securing a licence for payment of a fee, the issue of the two governments retaining trawlers or boats used by the arrested fishermen in both countries seems to have left fisher folk worried.

The Sunday Times here reported that Sri Lankan fishermen, who were apprehended by India on charges of poaching and released from custody, were facing a new crisis, as they were finding it difficult to make a living without their boats, which were confiscated by the Indian authorities.

Fisheries Deputy Minister, Sarath Kumara Gunarathna was quoted as saying ”Sri Lanka does not release boats belonging to Indian fishermen taken into custody for entering Sri Lanka’s waters, thus Indian authorities follow the same principle."