Dec 18, Colombo: Thousands of Sri Lankan fishermen in the northwest staged a protest today demanding the release of their fellow fishermen arrested by the Indian Coast Guard.
Obstructing the Colombo-Puttalam main road along the northwest coast, the fishermen held a protest near Thoppuwa Bridge in Wennappuwa and demanded the Sri Lankan government to take action to get their colleagues released from the Indian custody immediately.
The fishermen also demanded an immediate halt to the Indian fishermen intruding into the Sri Lankan waters and stealing their livelihood.
According to the Director General of the Fisheries Department Nimal Hettiarachchi, 213 Sri Lankan fishermen are in Indian custody along with 40 boats.
Arrests of Sri Lankan fishermen by Indian Coast Guard go unnoticed since the Sri Lankan government does not take effective measures to secure their release promptly and the fishermen languish in Indian jails for a long time, the Sri Lankan fishermen associations and relatives of the jailed fishermen complain.
A spokesman for the All Ceylon Multi-Day Trawler Owners Association charged that the Indian officials are extending the detention of Sri Lankan fishermen without taking any legal action.
The Director General speaking to News First said the relevant Sri Lankan officials have held discussions on the issue on Tuesday and the Department is working to get the fishermen released before Christmas.
He said that Rs. 500,000 has been granted to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Chennai to purchase clothing and other essentials for the detained Sri Lankan fishermen.
The official asserted that the fishermen will be brought home as soon as they are released by the Indian authorities.