Government on Wednesday said it has requested Sri Lankan Navy to act with restraint and not to fire on Indian fishermen if they stray into the waters of the island nation.
Replying to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said there have been six cases of alleged attack on Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters and India have taken up the issue with Sri Lanka.
“Keeping in mind the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions of the issue, Government has impressed on the Sri Lankan Navy to act with restraint, not to fire on our fishermen and treat our fishermen in a humane manner,” he said.
He said a total of 964 Indian fishermen had been apprehended by the Sri Lankan authorities since January last year, of which 927 were released.
“Government was steadfastly working, in close cooperation, with the relevant stakeholders for the expeditious release of thirty seven Indian fishermen from Sri Lankan custody,” Singh said.
Singh said a total of 303 fishermen, believed to be Indian nationals, are languishing in Pakistani jails.
“Of these, 126 fishermen have been confirmed as Indian and nationality confirmation of the remaining 177 fishermen is under process. Since January 2014, the number of Indian fishermen released by Pakistan is 357,” he said.
The Minister said Fishermen Associations of India and Sri Lanka held talks on March 24 and felt proposals suggested by the Indian fishermen during the meeting could form the basis of a mutually acceptable long-term solution to the issue.
“A response on the proposals is awaited from the Sri Lankan Fishermen Association,” he said.
Singh said Government remains engaged with the Governments of Sri Lanka and Pakistan with a view to ensuring that fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner.