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3/11/2015

StrikingajarringnoteTheHindu

Today'sPaperOPINION
Strikingajarringnote
IndoSriLankanrelationshaveseenamarkedupturninrecentweeksafteranewadministrationtookoverinColombo.
Lastmonth,duringthevisitofPresidentMaithripalaSirisena,foursubstantiveagreementsweresigned.Therearealso
indicationsthatIndiassensitivitiesregardingColombosrelationswithBeijingarebeingaddressed.PrimeMinister
NarendraModiissettovisitSriLankathisweek,thefirstsuchbilateralvisitattheprimeministeriallevelfromIndia
inyears.Giventhisbackdrop,itisjarringtonoteSriLankanPrimeMinisterRanilWickremesinghesremarksseeking
tojustifytheshootingofIndianfishermenwhocrossthemaritimeboundarybetweenthetwocountries.Hisclaimthat
fishermenfoundinanothercountrysterritorialwatersdeservetobeshot,goesagainsttheinternationalpolicyof
lookingatsuchtransgressionsasciviloffences.ItalsogoesagainsttheestablishedbilateralpolicyofIndiaandSri
LankatreatingthefisheriesconflictinthePalkBayasahumanitarianandlivelihoodissuetoberesolvedpeacefully.
FollowingMr.WickremesinghesintriguingremarksinaninterviewtoaTamiltelevisionchannelthattherewouldbe
noshootingincidentsifIndianandSriLankanfishermenavoidedenteringeachothersterritory,ExternalAffairs
MinisterSushmaSwarajhadtoraisetheissueatarecentmeetingwithMr.Wickremesinghe,andunderscorethe
essentialhumanitariannatureoftheproblem.ThecomparisonwithIndiasapproachtotheItalianmarinescasewas
alsoinaptasitinvolvedIndianfishermenbeingshotatfromaforeignvesselandhadnothingtodowithanyfisheries
conflict.
ItissurprisingthattheSriLankanPrimeMinistersocasuallytalkedaboutshootingwhensuchincidentshad
subsidedconsiderablyinthelastdecadeorso.Inrecentyears,SriLanka,inamovethatisunderstandableinthe
contextoftrawlersfromtheIndiansidedepletingthemarineresourcesintheSriLankanwaters,hasbeenlimitingits
actionstoarrestingfishermenandseizingthetrawlersinvolved.Throughabilateralagreement,thefishermen,too,are
releasedafterashortwhile,eventhoughthedetentionofthetrawlerscontinuetoprovokeangryprotestsinTamil
Nadu.ThereislittledoubtthattherootoftheproblemliesintrawlersfromTamilNaduenteringSriLankanwaters,
andengaginginunsustainablefishingpracticesusingbannedequipment.Whilenegotiationsbetweenfishermenfrom
bothsidesareneededbeforeanacceptablesolutionisreached,anysuchagreementwillnecessarilyhavetoinvolve
Indiantrawlersbeingphasedoutearly.TheanswermaylieinTamilNadufishermenbeingweanedawayfromfishing
groundsinthelimitedspaceinthePalkBayandPalkStraitandbeingencouragedtoengageindeepseafishing.

http://www.thehindu.com/todayspaper/tpopinion/strikingajarringnote/article6979885.ece

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