File - AP Photo/Heri Juanda
India Raises Fishermen Issue With Lanka

India today raised with Sri Lanka the arrest of 73 Indian fishermen by Lankan forces for allegedly poaching in its waters.

The Indian High Commissioner in Colombo has been instructed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up the issue of arrest with Sri Lankan authorities, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said.

"And our High Commissioner has taken up the issue with Sri Lankan authorities," he said.

73 Indian fishermen have been arrested in Sri Lanka, days after it released 33 fishermen from the country.

Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Kosala Waranakulasuriya said in Colombo that 41 Indian fishermen were arrested off the coast of Talaimannar in the north while another 32 fishermen were arrested off the Delft Islands yesterday.

Fifteen fishing vessels have also been confiscated.

The fishermen arrested in Delft were being brought to the Kankesanturai port while others would be handed over to the fisheries inspection office at Talaimannar.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking laying down of a time-bound action plan to achieve a "long-term, permanent solution to the problem and also to put in place a strong and robust diplomatic response" to the issue arrest of the Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last month had ordered the release of Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture. He had attended the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 in Delhi.

Talks between India and Sri Lanka on the fishermen issue had ended in a deadlock early last month and negotiators are scheduled to meet again this month.

Sri Lanka had shot down a request from Tamil Nadu fishermen to allow fishing in Lankan waters for 70 days a year and to allow bottom trawling.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the fishermen of Rameswaram, Mandapam and Pamban and nearby areas at Madurai decided to go on indefinite strike from tomorrow, demanding release of the fishermen and their boats.

Rameswaram fishermen organisation functionaries including T Sesuraja, S Emerite and N Devadass, who took part in the meeting, said the meeting also demanded that the central and state governments take necessary steps to get them released.

They also sought steps for the release of five fishermen of Thangachimadam allegedly arrested by the Lankan personnel on charges of smuggling drugs two years ago.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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