‘Govt will continue to engage with Lanka to ensure no more arrests’
Concerned over the arrest and harassment of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy, government on Wednesday said it would continue to engage with the island nation to get them released from Lankan prisons.
‘We share the concerns of the members over the situation faced by the fishermen. A large number of fishermen have already been released (by Sri Lanka). We will continue to engage with Sri Lanka to ensure that no more arrests are made and ensure all those arrested are released,’ parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said in Lok Sabha.
His response came after Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and members from AIADMK, DMK and Congress raised the issue. Even after Nath's statement, AIADMK members walked out, apparently unsatisfied with the government's response.
Attacking the government for its ‘inaction’ over the ‘intensified hostile actions’ by Sri Lankan Navy against the fishermen, AIADMK leader M Thambidurai said Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa had written several letters to the Prime Minister on the matter but no concrete action has yet been taken.
Maintaining that about 125 fishermen were still in the Lankan prisons and over 500 killed in the last several years, he also attacked DMK, a former UPA partner, for ‘not persuading the Prime Minister to take action... Lankan Navy is acting with impunity...why can't the Indian Navy save our fishermen and prevent the arrests?’
The AIADMK leader also said the issue of Katchathinvu still remained to be resolved and Sri Lanka was ‘taking advantage’ of Parliament not passing a resolution in the matter.
Associating with Thambidurai, Swaraj said a mechanism for resolving the issue of fishermen existed, under which officials of India and Sri Lanka would meet on a regular basis to sort out such issues. ‘But no meeting has taken place for several years now. What to do with such a mechanism?’