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Indians given dates for talks

2013 Jul 23

Minister Basil Rajapaksa meeting with Representatives of the Fishermens Federation of Tamil Nadu - 5 July    

Indian fishermen have received an invite to visit Sri Lanka and hold talks with their Sri Lankan counterparts. The fishermen, however, urged the Tamil Nadu state government to facilitate the meeting so that the resolutions passed by the fishermen groups are implemented, the Times of India reported.

According to the fishermen leaders, they received a letter from a Sri Lankan official who acted as the translator of Minister Basil Rajapakse when he had visited New Delhi this month.

The fishermen received the invite with detailed itinerary a few days back. B Jesuraja, district secretary of Tamil Nadu Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, confirmed the development. “We have received the invite letter from Anthonymuthu who seems to be the consultant to fisheries department in Sri Lanka. The letter has the schedule of meeting with various fishermen associations and the officials, including President Mahinda Rajapakse,” he said.

The schedule from August 1 to 7 has slots for talks at Talaimannar, Jaffna, Mullaitheevu, Kytes Island and Colombo. “Basil Rajapakse invited us to the country and promised to organise the talks with Sri Lankan fishermen,” Jesuraja said.

Around 19 fishermen leaders, who are planning to visit the neighbouring country, have also decided to take their counterparts from Nagapattinam, Karaikal and Kottaipattinam for the talks, fishermen sources said.

However, the fishermen demanded that the officials from Tamil Nadu fisheries department accompany them and the state government facilitate these meetings. Similar meetings were held earlier between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen way back in 2004 and 2010, but the resolutions passed between the parties were never implemented.

“The fishermen of both countries had agreed on terms like allowing Indian fishermen for about 70 fishing days in Sri Lankan waters and banning harmful fishing practices but nothing materialised without government’s will,” stated R Sahayam, president of Saveriar Fishermen Association in Rameswaram.

“We strongly urge the state government to take it up and help us to settle this issue amicably. We are going to meet the district collector and seek his help in getting an appointment with the chief minister,” Jesuraja said. When contacted Ramanathapuram collector, K Nandakumar said that the fishermen briefed him about their meeting with Basil Rajapakse and will get in touch with the fishermen about the recent invite from Sri Lankan side.

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