Indian fishermen`s release: Krishna dials Colombo

India on Thursday conveyed its "deep concern" over the detention of 136 Indian fishermen in Jaffna and asked the Sri Lankan government to take "necessary" steps to get them released.

Updated: Feb 17, 2011, 20:28 PM IST

New Delhi: India on Thursday conveyed its "deep
concern" over the detention of 136 Indian fishermen in Jaffna
and asked the Sri Lankan government to take "necessary" steps
to get them released.

"I have just had a telephonic conversation with the
Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka (G L Peiris) and I
have conveyed India`s deep concern at the detention of nearly
136 fishermen in Jaffna district," External Affairs Minister S
M Krishna said here.
136 Indian fishermen are currently in the custody of Sri
Lankan authorities out of which 112 were caught on last
Tuesday by a group of local fishermen and handed over to the
police there. This has triggered protests in Tamil Nadu, where
the fishermen hailed from.

"I have also conveyed my deep regret that Sri Lankan
nationals and Sri Lankan fishermen have taken law into their
own hands and confronted our fishermen," Krishna said.

He said even though there is no justification for
fishermen to stray into Sri Lankan waters, likewise Sri Lankan
fishermen have to be "very cautious" when they are getting
into Indian waters.

"But nevertheless in the light of the bilateral
relationship between Sri Lanka and India which has always been
cordial, I think it is necessary that all of us must help to
defuse the situation. I have suggested the fishermen to be
released....," Krishna said.

He said it so happens that today is a holiday in Sri
Lanka and courts are not functioning and "I am hopeful the Sri
Lanka government will take necessary steps to get all 136
fishermen released" when the courts reopen tomorrow.

"I have also suggested to the Sri Lankan External Affairs
Minister that fishermen associations (from both sides)
themselves should get in touch with each other so that they
can come to some understanding with reference to fishing in
international waters," he said.
The incidents of detention of and recent attacks on
fishermen have triggered protests in Tamil Nadu where over
5,000 DMK workers, including party MPs Kanimozhi and T K S
Elangovan, were arrested yesterday when they tried to take out
a rally to Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission.

India had last month accused the Sri Lankan Navy of
killing at least two Indian fishermen.

The killings had triggered a flurry of diplomatic
activity between the two south Asian neighbours following
which Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Colombo to
seek assurances to prevent such incidents in future.

The issue was also raised by Krishna in his meeting with
his Sri Lankan counterpart Peiris earlier this month in
Thimphu, on the sidelines of a SAARC ministerial conference.

PTI