42 Sri Lankan fishermen detained off Chennai

December 7th, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Dec 7 (IANS) At least 42 Sri Lankan fishermen operating in Indian waters were detained in a northern seafront suburb here, the police said Sunday.Apprehended late Saturday night in eight boats by Coast Guard personnel, the fishermen allegedly without valid identities would be quizzed by the Joint Interrogation Committee comprising officials from the Coast Guard, navy and the collectorate to assess threat perceptions, police sources said.

Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner P.M. Amza told IANS that he was aware of the development.

“I am informed that the 42 detained persons are our nationals from Trincomalee in the east and other places from the southern coast. Our mission’s officials are attending to the needs of the fishermen and ensuring their cooperation with the local authorities,” Amza said.

“It is up to the local officials to assess the intent of the fishermen who had strayed into Indian waters. If found harmless, they may be probably released shortly as per provisions of Indian laws,” Amza added.

According to Amza, details of ethnicities of the fishermen are awaited.

Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen regularly cross the maritime boundary and are routinely arrested and released - an aspect utilised by Lankan Tamil militants for supplies and ordnance. Actions by defence personnel on both sides often result in protests on both sides.

Except for a stretch on southwest coast of Sri Lanka, Colombo has banned fishing anywhere near its shores following orders from its defence establishment over the last two decades.

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