Sri Lankan Navy arrests 6 Indian fishermen for alleged poaching

The Sri Lankan Navy on Saturday arrested six Indian fishermen and seized their boat for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters, an official statement said, the fourth such incident involving Indians in the island nation this month.

The arrest was made in seas northwest of the Kovilan Lighthouse in Jaffna during a patrol in the wee hours of Saturday, the Navy said in a statement.

“Sri Lanka Navy seized an Indian dhow with six Indian fishermen while poaching in Sri Lankan waters,” it said.

They were apprehended during a patrol carried out by a Fast Attack Craft of the 4th Fast Attack Flotilla (4 FAF), attached to the Northern Naval Command in seas northwest of the Kovilan Lighthouse.

Accordingly, the Navy took hold of the Indian dhow with six Indian fishermen via the International Maritime Boundary Line.

At least 29 fishermen from India have been arrested so far this month, it said, adding that six boats have also been impounded.

This was the fourth arrest of the Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters during this month.

On February 13, the Navy said it had arrested 12 Indian fishermen and seized two fishing trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters.

On February 8, it arrested 11 Indian fishermen and seized three fishing trawlers and on February 1, twenty-one Indian fishermen were arrested.

The fishermen issue is a contentious one in ties between the two countries.

The issue of fishermen also figured in the talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris in New Delhi earlier this month.

There have been several alleged incidents of Sri Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats.

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

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