Sri Lanka today said its navy had arrested Indian fishermen for allegedly violating the international maritime boundary, a thorny issue in bilateral ties. Reacting to comments by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on the arrest of Indian fishermen across the Palk Straits, Sri Lanka's fisheries minister Rajitha Senaratne claimed that 154 Sri Lankan fishermen and 29 trawlers were currently being held by India. "She has said that we have arrested Indian fishermen.
She seems to forget that they were arrested for violating our International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL)," Senaratne said. Jayalalithaa had complained that fishermen from Tamil Nadu have suffered loss of income due to the arrests. "Same thing applies to our fishermen," Senaratne said. Jayalalithaa had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to secure immediate release of 80 fishermen and 47 boats detained illegally by the Sri Lankan Navy. Senaratne in recent times has come under pressure from relatives of Sri Lankan fishermen arrested by India. They lament that Sri Lankan authorities are lackadaisical in their approach in seeking the release of local fishermen in contrast to their Indian counterparts. Local fishermen's organisations say that Indian fishermen are released swiftly as compared to Sri Lankans. The issue also came up for discussion during External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's visit here on the sidelines of the CHOGM summit earlier this month. The Centre is working with the Tamil Nadu government to get the associations of fishermen of India and Sri Lanka to meet before the Joint Working Group meeting of the two countries to consider further measures for resolving the problem of frequent arrests and attacks.