CLARIFICATION ON “INDO – LANKA FISHING ROW DEEPENS: LANKA IGNORES VIOLATION OF IMMIGRATION LAWS”
Attention is drawn to the article “Indo – Lanka fishing row deepens: Lanka ignores violation of immigration laws” published in the Sri Lankan newspaper “Sunday Times” on 10th April 2011.
Sri Lanka Navy wishes to state that on receiving information from the High Commission of India in Colombo that an Indian fishing trawler that had sailed from Rameshwaram on 2nd April 2011 had gone missing, Sri Lanka Navy launched a search and rescue operation to look for the missing trawler. On 6th April 2011 a dead body was found off the Island of Delft and the body was subsequently handed over to Kayts Police. As there was suspicion that this body could be of a member of the missing Indian trawler, Indian authorities were informed accordingly.
As there was a requirement for relatives to identify the dead body and considering the urgency of the matter both the governments agreed to transfer the relatives of the crew members of the missing trawler by sea in keeping with the past practice of handling the issues related to fishermen and as a gesture of goodwill.
On 9th April 2011 Sri Lanka Navy took over six relatives of the crew members from the Indian Coast Guard vessel at the International Maritime Boundary Line and transferred them to Jaffna also in liaison with the Sri Lanka Police and the Consulate of India in Jaffna, to facilitate positive identification of the dead body and for subsequent formalities and last rites.
It is reiterated that at no time did the Indian Coast Guard vessel enter the Sri Lankan waters and that the arrangements by the Sri Lankan authorities were made as a humanitarian gesture.
Hence the Sri Lanka Navy is of the opinion that this incident of humanitarian assistance arranged by both Governments should not have been given the interpretation of a case of violating the country’s immigration laws.