India has strongly protested to Sri Lanka over the death of four Indian fishermen following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft last month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
Replying to questions in the Rajya Sabha, the minister also said no Indian fishermen were in Sri Lanka’s custody presently. On January 18 this year, four fishermen lost their lives following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft.
“We have very, very strongly protested to the Sri Lankans on this matter. In response to that, they have instituted an inquiry. We are awaiting the results of the inquiry. But, I wish to assure…that we will take a very strong view on this matter,” he said.
A strong protest in regard to the incident was conveyed by the Indian High Commissioner to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister. A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi.
Jaishankar also told the House that “right now, there are no Indian fishermen in the custody of Sri Lanka”. There were nine till recently and they have been released. “As of now, there are 62 Indian boats which we are trying to get released from Sri Lankan custody,” he said.
Previously, there were 173 boats, out of which 36 were salvageable. “So, the auction procedures for the unsalvageable boats are currently under discussion. Our endeavour would be, whatever can be returned, we will get them returned and whatever can be salvaged, we will expedite the salvage,” the minister added.
He also said the government attaches the highest priority to the safety and security of Indian fishermen. As soon as reports of apprehension of Indian fishermen are received, the government, through diplomatic channels, takes up the matter with the government of Sri Lanka, he said.