Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan responds to a question asked by Vaiko
There are 12 Indian fishermen and 62 boats currently in Sri Lankan custody and efforts are ongoing to secure their release, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan told Parliament on Thursday.
In a reply to queries raised by Rajya Sabha MP, Vaiko, Mr. Muraleedharan said in 2020, 74 Indian fishermen were arrested and 11 boats were confiscated by the Sri Lankan authorities. With sustained diplomatic efforts the Government secured the release of all these fishermen, he said.
In January 2021, 12 Indian fishermen and two boats were arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities and consular access and legal assistance have been provided to them by the Indian High Commission in Colombo and the Consulate in Jaffna, he said.
He said the Government of India has been taking up the issue of the release of Indian fishermen and fishing boats held by Sri Lanka at high levels through diplomatic channels.
“Following the 2+2 initiative in November 2016, when the Foreign and Fisheries Ministers of the two countries met in New Delhi, a bilateral Joint Working Group (JWG) mechanism and meeting of the Ministers for Fisheries of the two countries was institutionalised to address the fishermen issues with Sri Lanka. On December 30, 2020, the 4th Round of JWG talks was held between the two governments where the entire gamut of issues related to fishermen were discussed,” he said.