Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday downplayed the impounding of boats belonging to TN fishermen by the Lankan authorities even as he expressed “gratitude” to the Lankan government for the release of detained fishermen.
He told Indian journalists that only 19 fishermen still remained in custody of the 127 and appealed to “colleagues agitating in TN to take note of this.”
The Indian Minister said the detention of boats (32 as on date) was “both part of the problem and its solution” and appealed for a quick meeting of fishermen’s representatives to look into all aspects. Fishing rights were only one aspect. Others important areas were equity and marine resource sustainability, he said.
“Your right to livelihood should not deprive another man’s livelihood”, Khurshid said in an oblique reference to poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen.
Stressing that fishermen should also consider sustainability of resources, he said bottom trawling by TN fishermen destroyed marine resources. He felt that the 2008 pact on fishing needed to be improved.
Asked to comment on the prospects for devolution of powers to the Northern Provincial Council, the visiting Indian Minister said that it was necessary to replace “conflict by a meeting of minds.” While the polls to the NPC was a “historic” landmark, a lot of “hard work” still needed to be done.