India, Sri Lanka not to use force against fishermen


New Delhi : India and Sri Lanka Tuesday ended a two-day meeting of their joint working group on fisheries, the first since 2006, and agreed not to use force against fishermen at sea.

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The agreement comes in the backdrop of India’s strong protests over the Sri Lankan Navy alleged killing fishermen from Tamil Nadu when they had reportedly ventured across the maritime border into the Lankan waters in January this year.

The Sri Lankan delegation was led by exertnal affairs ministry Additional Secretary Ranjith Uyangoda and the Indian side was headed by T.S. Tirumurti, joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs.

“The third meeting of the India-Sri Lanka joint working group on fisheries was held in New Delhi on March 28-29. Both sides reiterated the high priority given by their respective governments to issues of fishermen and their livelihood. They stressed the need for all fishermen to be treated in a humane manner,” a release from the Indian foreign ministry said.

“To ensure the safety and security of fishermen, both sides agreed that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances. The need to respect the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) when fishing was stressed by the Sri Lankan side.”

Both sides discussed the various regulatory measures being put in place to manage the fishery resources in their respective waters, the statement said.

“The two sides agreed that a road map needs to be put in place to ensure resource sustainability, livelihood, safety and security of the fishermen of both countries. Both sides also discussed measures to expedite the release of bonafide detained fishermen from both countries,” the release said.

Sri Lanka said in the meeting that the violent incidents in January, which resulted in the death of two Indian fishermen, was being investigated.

In this context, the two sides noted that the joint statement on fishing arrangements of October 26, 2008, had led to a decrease in violent incidents in 2009 and 2010.

The leader of the Sri Lankan delegation called on Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao after the meeting.