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Fishing in neighbour's waters remains a knotty problem for India, Sri Lanka by Indrani Bagchi August 09,2012   |  Source: TNN

On Wednesday, 11 Sri Lankan fishermen returned home after being detained for over three months in India. They had been picked up from near Andhra Pradesh by the Indian Coast Guard in May. Last week, Sri Lanka released 23 Indian fishermen after detaining them for fishing in Lankan waters. In both cases, passions run high, the two foreign ministries get involved and it's becoming a messy affair between the two neighbours.

In recent months, Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen have protested in front of the Indian consulate in Jaffna, complaining that Indian fishermen are stealing their livelihoods. In Tamil Nadu, fishermen complain that Sri Lankan navy, in its aggressive patrolling of the waters, has taken to shooting at them. For the first time, Indian Tamils are up against people they considered their own across the Palk Straits.

It's becoming a tough nut to crack for both governments. "It's a humane and livelihood issue for both countries," said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's high commissioner to India. At its simplest, the conflict is about Indian fishermen looking for prawns on the Lankan side and crossing over the maritime boundary where they are caught. Lankan fishermen too stray into Indian waters in search of tuna, and in the current case, were caught off the Andhra


© 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

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