Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether it is a fact that two Tamil fishermen were killed recently by Sri Lankan Navy while fishing to Palk Straits in Indian waters;
(b) if so, the details thereof;
(c) whether it is also a fact that Sri Lankan Navy is consistently resorting to firing on Tamil fishermen resulting in their deaths or being wounded in complete violation of 2008 Agreement of No firing between India and Sri Lanka; and
(d) if so, the concrete measures Government have taken in this regard in particular to protect the Tamil fishermen from the onslaught of Sri Lankan Navy?
ANSWER THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (SHRI E. AHAMED)
(a) & (b) On 12th January, 2011, an Indian fishing trawler is reported to have been fired at allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy resulting in an Indian fisherman Mr. Pandiyan being killed. The Indian trawler was on the Sri Lankan side of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). A second incident took place on 22-23 January, 2011 where one Indian fisherman Mr. Jaikumar died in the waters between India and Sri Lanka by strangulation allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy personnel. The Sri Lankan Government have denied any involvement of their Navy in either of these incidents.
(c) & (d) As soon as the news of the death of our fishermen in January, 2011 was received, the Government had immediately taken up the matter with the Government of Sri Lanka both in New Delhi and Colombo and expressed our deep concern at these incidents. We emphasized that resort to firing or use of force in such situation had no justification. To underline the seriousness with which Government viewed these developments, Foreign Secretary visited Sri Lanka from January 30-31, 2011 to convey Government of India’s strong concern over the killing of our fishermen. She also called on H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. During his meeting on 7th February 2011 with Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris in Thimpu, EAM took up strongly the issue of these two deaths and conveyed our deep concern on the violence against our fishermen.
During the visit of Foreign Secretary to Sri Lanka in January, 2011 a Joint Statement was issued where both sides agreed that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances. The Sri Lankan Government reiterated their commitment to ascertaining the facts behind the incidents. Both sides agreed that the October 2008 Understanding on Fishing Arrangements had led to a decrease in incidents and that there was need to discuss further arrangements so as to strengthen the safety and security of the fishermen. It was decided that the next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Fishing would be convened at an early date and contacts between the fishermen associations of both countries encouraged.
Subsequent to the October, 2008 Joint Statement between India and Sri Lanka, while in 2008, 1456 Indian fishermen were apprehended by Sri Lankan Government, in 2009, 127 fishermen were apprehended and in 2010, apprehension had come down to 34. Further, while in 2008, number of fishermen reported killed was 5 and 1 missing, in 2009, there were no deaths of Indian fishermen and in 2010, one death was reported. In January, 2011 two Indian fishermen have died in two separate incidents.