Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is not averse to the idea of allowing fishermen of Tamil Nadu to fish in the Lankan waters for 15 days in a month, but he wants any such proposal to be routed through the Indian government, according to Congress Member of Parliament K. S. Alagiri.
Mr. Alagiri told The Hindu over phone from Colombo on Saturday that he met the President in the morning and he raised the issue of recent arrest of 31 fishermen, now lodged at Trincomalee prison, for having strayed into the Sri Lankan waters. [The fishermen are from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal.]
The MP is in Sri Lanka on an invitation from Sri Lankan Minister Arumugam Thondaman to participate in the centenary celebration of Samayamoorthy Thondaman, the leader of Ceylon Workers Congress.
Mr. Alagiri’s meeting with Mr. Rajapaksa took place at the function when a portrait of the CWC leader was unveiled. Former Minister A. Jegatheeswararn of the CWC played a role in facilitating the meeting with Mr Rajapaksa.
“The idea is to avoid arrest and attack on Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy. We suggested that Tamil fishermen be allowed to fish for 15 days and Sri Lankan fishermen can come here and fish. Mr. Rajapaksa originally had reservations, but after a lot of persuasion, he asked me to send a proposal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first and follow it up with him,” Mr. Alagiri said. “When I asked Mr Rajapaksa to release all the fishermen who have been in jail for a month, he said all of them had been remanded to judicial custody and only a legal process will set them free,” Mr Alagiri.
Mr. Alagiri met the fishermen at Trincomalee prison in the evening.