Lanka cannot "antagonise" India on fishermen issue: Minister

Last Updated: Thursday, August 20, 2009 - 00:23

Colombo: Amid demands by the opposition
Marxist JVP that Sri Lanka take up with India the detention of
its fishermen straying into the Indian waters, the government
here has said it does not want to "antagonise" New Delhi on
the issue and favoured an amicable settlement to it.

"We cannot antagonise India" on the issue, Fisheries
Minister Felix Perera told Parliament yesterday.

He noted that New Delhi has always taken initiatives to
try to curb its own fishermen from coming into the Sri Lankan
waters.

"We have to settle the problem amicably with India," he
said.

The minister said Sri Lanka never permits its fishermen
to go to the Indian waters. However, when they do
inadvertently cross into the waters of the neighbouring
country, the government here has to pay for the air tickets to
get them back from India that imposes an additional cost for
authorities, he added.

Pereira told Parliament that opposition parties like JVP
would be the first to raise the issue if Sri Lanka follows a
strict policy for its fishermen.

He said the opposition would then insist on leniency for
fishermen, citing reasons like they get caught in tidal waves
or get stranded.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, August 20, 2009 - 00:23

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