Tamil Nadu fishermen’s team to visit Sri Lanka March

February 26th, 2011 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) In a step to defuse tensions between India and Sri Lanka over the fishermen’s rights in the waters between the two countries, a delegation of fishermen’s associations from Tamil Nadu will visit the island nation in March, it was decided at a high-level meeting here presided by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.”Such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial and should be strengthened,” a release issued by the external affairs ministry said.

Besides Rao, the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, the Coast Guard director general, Tamil Nadu fisheries secretary and officials from the ministries of defence and external affairs attended the meeting.

“The meeting was convened against the background of the recent developments concerning the violent incidents in the waters between India and Sri Lanka and the arrests of Indian fishermen,” the release said.

“While satisfaction was expressed at the release of the 136 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan government, it was nevertheless emphasised that resort to firing and use of force in such situations, as had happened in January, had no justification,” the release said.

“The meeting welcomed the convening of the joint working group on fishing proposed for March,” it said.

Tamil Nadu officials said that efforts were on to inform their fishermen about the need to observe security and safety parameters while engaging in fishing activities in the waters between India and Sri Lanka, the release said.

The state government will finalise the necessary arrangements, in consultation with the central government, to facilitate the participation of Indian pilgrims at St. Anthony’s festival at the uninhabited Kachchativu Island off Sri Lanka, the release added.

With recent incident of Indian fishermen being apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had Feb 23 told parliament that the an India-Sri Lanka joint working group on fisheries will meet next month to resolve issues.

In statements to both houses of parliament, Krishna said the incidents in last two months had caused “much consternation and concern” in India and the “welfare, safety and security” of Indian fishermen would always receive the highest priority.

Two Indian fishermen were killed in the sea between India and Sri Lanka in January, and another 136 fishermen from Tamil Nadu were surrounded by Sri Lankan fishermen, who caught them and handed them over to the island nation’s police earlier this month.

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