‘We should go ahead with humane approach’: Modi on fishermen’s issue with Lanka

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday said the fishermen’s issue figured in his discussions with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, adding that the matter should be approached from a humane angle.

“Today, we also discussed the issues related to the livelihood of fishermen. We agree that we should go ahead on the matter with a humane approach,” PM Modi said in a joint statement with the Sri Lankan President.

“We also spoke about reconstruction and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe told me about his inclusive approach,” PM Modi said.

“We hope that the Sri Lankan Govt will fulfil the aspirations of Tamils and take forward the process for equality, justice and peace. We hope it will fulfil its commitment to the implementation of the 13th Amendment and Provincial Council Elections…” he added.

Earlier, in June, four Indian fishing boats were impounded and 22 fishermen apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy, for allegedly crossing into Sri Lankan waters. The fishermen, who had set sail from the Mandapam and Pudukottai fishing ports in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, were arrested near Delft Island in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

After investigation, they were produced before a local police court where the judge ordered their judicial custody till July 5. The fishermen were lodged in the Jaffna jail.

After completion of the custody, the fishermen were produced before the court again, which ordered their release after due process. The released fishermen returned home a couple of days later.

In other similar incidents, twelve Pudukottai fishermen fishing near Delft island in the Palkbay area were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in March 2023.

In March again, the Sri Lankan Navy said that it had carried out a special operation to chase away Indian trawlers from Sri Lankan waters. In a statement, Sri Lankan Navy said the operation led to the seizure of 2 Indian trawlers along with 16 Indian nationals northeast of Veththalakeni and off the Analativu Island.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi on Friday said Sri Lanka has a special place in India’s neighbourhood first policy and the security interests and development of the two countries are intertwined.

In his remarks to the media after talks with Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister said they agreed on the enhancement of air connectivity between the two countries.

He said India stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sri Lanka in its time of crisis. “Sri Lanka also has an important place in both India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and ‘SAGAR’ vision. Today we shared our views on bilateral, regional and international issues. We believe that the security interests and development of India and Sri Lanka are intertwined,” PM Modi said.

Welcoming the Sri Lankan President and his delegation, PM Modi also congratulated him on completing a year in office.

“I congratulate him. The people of Sri Lanka faced many challenges last year but like a close friend, we stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Sri Lanka at a time of crisis,” he said.

During their talks, the two leaders discussed several issues of mutual interest.

The Sri Lankan President is on a two-day visit to India at the invitation of PM Modi. The talks were held at Hyderabad House in the national capital.

Sri Lanka is an important partner in India’s Neighbourhood First Policy and Vision SAGAR and the visit by the Sri Lankan President reinforced the longstanding friendship between the two countries.

Wickremesinghe arrived in New Delhi on Thursday and was welcomed by Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan. (ANI)

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