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Sri Lankan fishermen in custody of Indian Coast Guard

Chennai, Dec 16 (): Indian Coast Guard (ICG) during the enhanced surveillance undertaken off the Tamil Nadu coast, ICG Vishwast apprehended a Sri Lankan fishing boat 46 nautical miles south-east of Nagapattinam with five Lankan crew onboard and 405 kg of fish. The presence of radar and long-range high frequency communication equipment has posed a few questions on the motive of the `fishing boat’.

The boat named Malisha-1 was apprehended for violation of Sections 3/10 (fishing without license), Sec 7/14 (entering Indian Exclusive Economic Zone without stowing fishing gear in the prescribed manner) and Sec 15 (a & c) (failing to produce documents) of Maritime Zones Act of 1981.The boat was equipped with GPS, radar and long-range high frequency communication equipment posing high security risk for the coast, a release said. The vessel’s detention is the first in December, raising the total for the year to 34 boats with 168 fishermen and 30,555 kg of fish.

ICG had enhanced vigil along the eastern seaboard for the festive season and prior to the New Year. Coast guard ships and aircraft are being deployed in the area regularly to monitor suspicious activities, CG sources said.

Fishing in Indian waters by Sri Lankan fishing boats have been on the increase. Many were taken into custody by ICG but without use of force, unlike Sri Lankan Navy who opens firing on Indian fishermen or pelts stones and chases them away after taking away the catch. The recent issue of Indian fishermen charged by Sri Lanka on drug charges had created a volatile situation. Five fishermen, who were detained by the Lankan Navy on December 14, have been released, said Arun Roy, district collector, here on Thursday.

A total of 104 Sri Lankan fishermen are still being detained by the Indian authorities, said External Affairs Minister of India S.M. Krishna recently. Last year, a total of 352 and as of August 16 this year, 131 Sri Lankan fishermen had been apprehended by our authorities.

A total of 104 Sri Lankan fishermen are still in our custody, said Krishna.