June 25, New Delhi: India is pursuing the fishermen issue with Sri Lanka through normal diplomatic channels as in the past, official Spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin said Tuesday.
Responding to a media question at the press briefing Tuesday, the Spokesperson said 64 Indian fishermen are being held in captivity in Sri Lanka and India is trying to resolve the situation with the Sri Lankan authorities at the earliest as it is a humanitarian and livelihood issue.
"We will remain fixed on trying and resolving this situation at the earliest… we see this as a humanitarian issue, we see this as a livelihood issue, and we will continue to take this matter up with the Sri Lankan authorities," Akbaruddin said.
He said India has consular access to the detained fishermen, and provided assistance to some of them.
According to the spokesperson, some of them were sick and they have been provided medicines and others have been provided basic amenities such as clothes, soap and other amenities.
"We will continue to pursue this matter with the Sri Lankan Government," Akbaruddin assured.
Sri Lanka today released 46 out of the 64 Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy and 18 fishermen are remaining.
When asked whether there is any timeframe that the Government of India is going to give to Sri Lankan naval forces for the fishermen to be brought back to India, the spokesman replied that in the last few days there have been serious efforts and fishermen have been released from time to time.
"We will continue with this. Sri Lanka is a friendly neighbor. We will try to impress on them through all possible diplomatic means that these are ordinary fishermen who are pursuing their livelihood, and this is a humanitarian issue," the Spokesman replied.
He said the problems of fishermen on India's western coast are more acute and the fishermen from the western side languish in Pakistan jails for much longer time.