Updated February 23rd, 2024 at 19:23 IST

18 Indian Fishermen Held For Allegedly Poaching in Sri Lankan Waters Freed by Court

In 2023 alone, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 240 Indian fishermen and seized 35 fishing trawlers.

Reported by: Digital Desk
More than 40 Indian fishermen have been arrested by Sri Lankan authorities in the past month. | Image:PTI/ Representative
Advertisement

COLOMBO: 18 Indian fishermen who were previously held for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters have now been released, officials revealed on Friday. The fishermen had been arrested on February 7 off the coast of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. Though all 18 of the fishermen had pled guilty in front of the court, the magistrate in Jaffna, on Thursday, freed the fishermen while also sentencing the drivers of the two boats to six months in prison for illegal fishing. 

Moreover, their boats have been confisticated. As for the 18 fishermen, the magistrate ordered their repatriation with the assistance of the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Deputy High Commission office in Jaffna.  

Advertisement

Just last month, 10 Indian fishermen were sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term for poaching in Sri Lankan waters. 

On February 20, the Northern Fisher Organisations launched a protest in front of the Indian Deputy High Commission office in Jaffna calling for intervention to stop illegal fishing by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.

Advertisement

The representatives from seven fisher organisations met the Indian Deputy High Commissioner in the presence of the local police that had been providing security to the premises in the face of the protest. The fisher organisations handed over a communiqué with their requests.

Long standing issue 

The fishermen issue has long been a contentious point in relations between India and Sri Lanka, with Sri Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Lankan territorial waters.

The Palk Strait, a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.

Advertisement

There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen being arrested by Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters. More than 40 Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy this month.

In 2023, the island nation's Navy arrested 240 Indian fishermen along with 35 trawlers for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters. 

Advertisement

With inputs from PTI. 

Advertisement

Published February 23rd, 2024 at 19:23 IST