AG's Word Awaited For Release Of Tamil Nadu Fishermen

December 05, 2014

The release of the 38 Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan custody, 26 of whom are on an indefinite hunger strike for the last four days, is awaiting orders from the country’s Attorney General, a top Lankan official told The New Indian Express in Colombo on Thursday.

“The Indian High Commission had taken up the issue with the Sri Lankan authorities. Now, it is for the Attorney General to withdraw the cases of trespass and poaching against the fishermen. Once this is done, they will be released,” said Nimal Hettiarachchi, Director General of Fisheries.

Asked about the demand for swapping fishermen in custody in India and Sri Lanka, a demand made by fishermen’s organisations in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, Hettiarachchi said that Lanka has taken up this suggestion with India through diplomatic channels. “But so far there has been no response from the Indian side,” he added.

Currently, there are 38 TN fishermen and 84 Indian boats in Lankan custody, and 22 Lankan fishermen and 40 Lankan boats in TN and Andhra Pradesh custody.

Lanka should Engage TN

S P Anthonymuthu of the Colombo-based lndia-Lanka Fishermen’s Welfare Forum said that the Lankan government must shed its policy of dealing only with the Central government in Delhi and begin engaging the Tamil Nadu government also.

“But what is preventing the Sri Lankan government from  doing so, is the prevailing hostility in Tamil Nadu towards Sri Lanka,” he said.    

Tamil Nadu’s Fisheries Secretary Dr Vijayakumar has attended meetings of Indian and Lankan fishermen as an observer.

But Anthonymuthu and fishermen’s leaders from Tamil Nadu feel that the governments of India, Tamil Nadu and Lanka should go beyond that and find a solution at the governments’ level.

Meeting with OPS

Anthonymuthu said that the Indo-Lanka Fishermen’s Welfare Forum has sought an appointment with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, and a meeting might take place any day between December 10 and 15.
(The New Indian Express)