The Government of India attaches “high priority” to 36 Indian fishermen who have been apprehended together with 5 of their fishing vessels by Sri Lankan Navy on December 14 and 15, mentioned an official of the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday.
“The Government attaches high priority to this issue. We are in close touch with the Government of Sri Lanka through our High Commission in Colombo and the Consulate in Jaffna to verify the information to ensure consular access and facilitate the early release of the fishermen and their boats,” mentioned Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The Hindu had reported earlier that the Sri Lankan Navy had suspended such arrests for months fearing Indian fishermen could possibly be carriers of COVID-19 however resumed its “raids” from earlier this week.
The Indian official reminded that each India and Sri Lanka have a “common understanding” to deal with the issues associated to fishermen in a humanitarian method.
“There are well-established bilateral mechanisms between India and Sri Lanka for discussions and cooperation on the issue of fishermen. Since these could not be convened due to ongoing Covid-19 related restrictions, it has now been mutually agreed to hold a meeting of the bilateral Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries through the virtual format on December 30,” Mr. Srivastava mentioned.