Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates

Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates
Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates
Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates
Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates

Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates

Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates

Indian Fishermen Arrested in Sri Lankan Waters, Crisis Escalates

In a concerning development, the Sri Lankan navy apprehended 27 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram and seized five of their boats for allegedly trespassing into Sri Lankan waters. The incident occurred near Mannar, as well as in proximity to the Delft and Kachchativu Islands in Jaffna, raising tensions between the two nations.

Indefinite Strike and Protests in Tamil Nadu

In response to the arrests, fishermen in Ramanathapuram have declared an indefinite strike, resulting in the suspension of fishing activities for approximately 7,000 fishermen. Protesting fishermen are planning a demonstration on Wednesday to underscore the urgency of their demands. The fishermen seek the release of their colleagues and the return of their seized boats.

Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve the Crisis

Union Minister of State for Fisheries, L Murugan, has pledged to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis and urged the fishermen to end their strike. He emphasized the adverse impact the strike could have on the lives of approximately 15,000 people in the region who depend on fishing for their livelihood.

Chief Minister and Diplomatic Appeal

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has also taken the matter seriously and appealed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to take diplomatic steps to secure the release of the Indian fishermen. He noted that repeated instances of arrest and boat seizures have caused fear among fishing communities along the coastline. These incidents not only result in financial losses for the fishermen and their families but also endanger the food security of countless individuals dependent on their catch.

Historical Context and Proposed Solutions

Over the past few decades, more than 600 Indian fishermen have been killed by the Sri Lankan navy for alleged trespassing. While killings have significantly decreased in recent years, Sri Lanka has stopped returning seized boats, causing substantial economic challenges for fishermen. In 2023 alone, the Sri Lanka Navy has seized 22 boats and arrested 137 Indian fishermen.

To address the issue, Tamil Nadu has proposed two solutions. One is to retrieve the Katchatheevu island, which India had ceded to Sri Lanka in the 1970s. This move would potentially increase the fishing grounds for Indian fishermen and alter the international boundary line. The state has also suggested the idea of a long-term lease agreement with Sri Lanka, which would grant Indian fishermen legal fishing rights.

The ongoing tensions highlight the complex and sensitive nature of territorial and resource-related conflicts between neighboring nations.

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