Sri Lankan navy arrests 49 Indian fishermen

Colombo, June 6 (IANS) The Sri Lankan navy arrested 49 Indian fishermen Thursday when they entered the country’s waters illegally.

Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told Xinhua that 24 fishermen were arrested off the northern seas of Mannar while another 25 were arrested off Jaffna, also in the north.

At least 10 boats had also been seized, the navy spokesman said. Police spokesman Budhika Siriwardena said that the first Indians had been brought ashore and handed over to the police.

Fishermen from both countries often stray into each other’s territory as both countries are divided by a small strip of sea.

Indian fishermen say India’s gifting of the Katchatheevu Island in the north to Sri Lanka in the 1970s has reduced fishing space available for Indian fishermen.

India and Sri Lanka have an agreement on dealing with fishermen when they are arrested and most often the fishermen are freed and handed over to the respective countries.

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