Lankan PM’s Comments on Fishing Issue ‘Excessive’, Says North Fisheries Minister
COLOMBO: Northern Province Fisheries Minister B.Deniswaran has described as “far reaching and excessive” Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s comments on the fisheries dispute with India in an interview to Thanthi TV.
“We do not approve of this approach,” Deniswaran told Express on Monday.
“It is true that Indian bottom trawlers are destroying our marine resources and snatching our fishermen’s livelihood, but the issue can be resolved only through talks. When Indian Prime Minister Modi comes to Talaimannar on March 14, we intend to present a memorandum stating the North Lankan fishermen’s case,” the minister said.
However, K.Rajachandran, Secretary of the Sri Ambal Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Karainagar, Jaffna, said that the Lankan PM had only stated facts.
“If the Indian government really cares for the safety of Indian fishermen, it should stop them from crossing the boundary line,” he suggested.
“However, violence is not the solution and the matter must be resolved through talks. We have sought a meeting with the Indian PM. But given his tight schedule, we may only hand over a memorandum to him,” Rajachandran said.
Asked why the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is taking up the Lankan fishermen’s cause now after neglecting it for years, he said: ” The TNA did not want to spoil Lankan Tamils’ relations with India and Tamil Nadu. We understood this compulsion but we kept up the pressure.”
Suesh Premachandran TNA spokesman and MP for Jaffna said: “We have to stop Indian bottom trawlers from doing all the dirty things they are doing here . They are destroying our nets. Once a fisherman’s net is destroyed, he cannot go to work the next day.”
Eye on Polls?
On the Lankan PM’s harsh remarks, he said: ” It is not clear if Wickremesinghe wanted to put pressure on India to listen to Lanka or he was portraying himself as a strong anti-India and pro-Lankan leader with an eye on the June parliamentary elections.”
That the Lankan PM had publicity in mind is evident from the fact that the state-owned media reproduced his interview to Thanthi TV in full.