Lanka govt invites Tamil Nadu fishermen for talks



New Delhi: The Sri Lankan government on Friday reached out to fishermen community of Tamil Nadu. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother and Economic Development Minister Basil met their delegation here with a promise of addressing their concerns.

Basil invited the fishermen to Sri Lanka to meet President Rajapaksa, ministers and representatives of Navy and coast guards to discuss their problems which include killings, arrests and harassment of Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait by Sri Lankan navy.

"It has been decided to have an open dialogue between both countries' fishermen with the consent of governments of India and Sri Lanka," a source familiar with the development said.

Through people-to-people contact, the problems can be solved, Basil Rajapaksa told the Tamil Nadu fishermen's delegation.

Devadass and Sesudass, representing the Association, appealed to Rajapaksa to give instructions to the Navy not to disturb or arrest them while fishing in the traditional areas.

They also requested him to release all the fishermen from Tamil Nadu, arrested by the Lankan navy, Association sources said.

The fishermen's Association functionaries met the minister in the wake of incidents of Tamil fishermen being threatened and arrested by the Lankan navy. The fishermen also charged the Navaymen caused damages to their fishing nets and boats.

Meanwhile, all the 49 fishermen from the state, arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on June 5 while fishing near the Palk Straits and released by the island nation's court a couple of days ago, were handed over to Indian Coast Guard officials at the International Martime Boundary Line on Friday.

Eight fishermen, who were arrested on June 15, were still in Sri Lankan prison, the sources said.

PTI