Tamil Diplomat

Sri Lanka willing to have joint patrolling

Sri Lanka Navy’s Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne on Monday expressed willingness to have joint patrolling with India to tackle the problem of alleged poaching by Indian (Tamil Nadu) fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.

“I have no objection,” he told India’s Hindu Newspaper in reply to a question. Every three months, the Navies of the two countries, along with Coast Guards of India and Sri Lanka, have been carrying out flag meetings. “This is equivalent to joint patrolling,” he explained.

The Commander also gave an account of the annual joint naval exercise by the two countries which concluded in Trincomalee on Sunday. The exercise, lasting six days, saw the participation of six vessels of Sri Lanka and three of India.

The purpose was to equip the Navies of the two countries to respond swiftly to disaster or emergency, he added.

As for the reported incident of damage caused allegedly by a group of Indian fishermen last week to the Sri Lankan Navy’s vessel, Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne said this took place when the fishermen were resisting arrest. This was why a complaint had been lodged with the police. “It is now a legal matter,” he said.

However, he said “the entire issue [of the release] will be sorted out today.” The authorities, on getting appropriate advice from the office of Attorney General, would move the court concerned for securing the release of the fishermen.