The Sri Lankan Navy has detained 125 Indian fishermen so far this year and a total of 562 in the last four years, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on Monday.
Three Indian fishermen have died in the Lankan Navy’s action, the reply said.
In response to a question from AIADMK member M Thambidurai, Antony said 32 Indian fishermen were taken into custody in 2010 by the Sri Lankan Navy, when they ventured into sea near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). In 2011, 203 fishermen were detained. Five of those arrested in November that year are still in custody on charges of smuggling narcotics. In 2012, the number stood at 202.
In 2010, one Indian fisherman died in the Lankan Navy action, while two died the next year.
“We are consistently taking up such issues with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure that their Navy acts with restraint and our fishermen found near the IMBL are treated in a humane manner,” he said.
As per the understanding reached in October 2008, there would be no firing on Indian fishing vessels and would not enter sensitive areas designated by the Sri Lankan Government along its coastline.
Noting that the Indian Coast Guard always provided assistance to fishermen in distress at sea, he said they also educated fishermen on the perils of cross-border fishing.