Poaching Indian fishermen major security threat: Sri Lanka navy

By P. Karunakharan, IANS,

Colombo : The Sri Lankan Navy has described Indian fishing trawlers poaching in the country’s northern territorial waters as “the number one security threat” in protecting the islets from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a media report said Friday.

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Quoting the commander, Northern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Tisara Samarasinghe, state-run Daily News reported that hundreds of Indian fishing trawlers, intruding into the waters of Delft, Nainativu and Analaitivu, had made these islands vulnerable to LTTE infiltration.

According to the northern naval commander, the real threat rising from this issue was the possibility of the LTTE making use of this opportunity to mingle with the Indian trawlers and launching major assaults on naval craft patrolling the northern seas.

“These Indian fishing trawlers have become a real threat not only to the security of the Jaffna islands but also to national security,” Samarasinghe has been quoted as saying.

He claimed that there had been many instances of the LTTE using Indian trawlers “as a shield to launch attacks on naval craft” in the northern seas.

“The Indian trawlers have now become the only way for the LTTE to smuggle in arms and ammunition to the Wanni.”

The remarks came after the Sea Tigers, the sea force of the LTTE, carried out two pre-dawn sea-borne attacks on two naval detachments in Jaffna and Mannar islets on May 29 and June 11 and claimed to have taken away a few military hardware including radars.

The media report said that Samarasinghe, who led the Sri Lankan naval delegation for the 16th International Maritime Boundary Line meeting held aboard the Indian vessel INS Kirch on June 5 this year, had raised this issue with Indian authorities.

“The lack of a mechanism on the part of the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to monitor the fishing trawlers launched from the Tamil Nadu coast was the main factor that hindered the process of controlling Indian fishing boats,” the media report said.