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QUESTION NO.1201 INDIAN FISHERMEN KILLED BY SRI LANKAN NAVY

February 11, 2021

RAJYA SABHA
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.1201
TO BE ANSWERED ON 11.02.2021.

INDIAN FISHERMEN KILLED BY SRI LANKAN NAVY

1201. DR. ANBUMANI RAMADOSS:

Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:

(a) whether Government is aware about the incidents of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu being killed, arrested and their boats and nets been illegally confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy;

(b) if so, the category-wise details thereof during the last two years;

(c) whether Government has taken any specific steps to prevent such violations of Internationally recognised human rights, bilateral agreements between India and Sri Lanka in this regard; and

(d) if so, the details thereof?

ANSWER
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
[SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN]

(a) & (b) There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen apprehended for alleged fishing in Sri Lankan waters. As per the available information, in 2019 and 2020, a total of 284 Indian fishermen were arrested (210 in 2019 and 74 in 2020) and a total of 53 Indian boats (42 in 2019 and 11 in 2020) were confiscated by the Sri Lankan authorities. In January 2021, 12 Indian fishermen along with 2 boats were arrested. With sustained diplomatic efforts, the Government of India has secured the release of all these fishermen. At present, 62 boats remain in Sri Lankan custody. According to available reports, in a tragic incident on January 18, 2021, four fishermen lost their lives following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft.

(c) & (d) Government has been taking up the matter of release of our fishermen and their fishing boats with the Government of Sri Lanka at the highest levels through diplomatic channels. Following the 2+2 initiative in November 2016, when the Foreign and Fisheries Ministers of the two countries met in New Delhi, a bilateral Joint Working Group (JWG) mechanism and meeting of the Ministers for Fisheries of the two countries was institutionalized to address the fishermen issues with Sri Lanka. On December 30, 2020, 4th Round of JWG was organized between the two governments where the entire gamut of issues related to fishermen was discussed.

A strong protest in regard to the incident of January 18, 2021 was conveyed by our High Commissioner to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister. A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi. Expressing our deep anguish at the loss of lives, the Government emphasized the need to deal with issues pertaining to fishermen in a humanitarian manner. It was stressed that existing understandings between the two Governments in that regard must be strictly observed and utmost efforts should be made to ensure that there is no recurrence.

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