NEW DELHI: A day after lodging a strong protest with the acting Sri Lankan high commissioner over the death of three Indian fishermen, New Delhi on Friday said the matter has been on the agenda of discussions between the two sides for a long time, and there is a realisation at the highest level that it is a humanitarian issue, which has to be handled in a humanitarian manner.
“Both the countries have agreed that it is a humanitarian issue and should be dealt with accordingly,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. Three fishermen from Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu had been reported missing on January 19. They were out fishing in a mechanised boat along with many other vessels from the same area.
The Sri Lankan Navy initially said an Indian boat, with four fishermen on board, sank when patrol vessels sought to apprehend it with other fishing boats that were allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters. “Our strong protest in regard to the incident was conveyed by our high commissioner to the Sri Lankan foreign minister (on Thursday). A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan acting high commissioner in New Delhi,” the MEA said in a statement.