“There are well established mechanisms to deal with the matter on the issue” Anurag Srivastava

Emphasizing the importance of dealing with issue of fishermen and fishing boats in a humanitarian manner India said there is a common understanding between India and Sri Lanka that the matter should be handled in a humanitarian manner.

“These issues have been on the bilateral agenda of the two sides and there is a realization at the highest level that these are humanitarian issues and there is a common understanding that this matter has to be handled in a humanitarian manner,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava told media-persons during a weekly briefing on Friday.

The MEA Spokesperson also acknowledged, “There are well established mechanisms to deal with the matter on the issue.”

The MEA Spokesperson’s statement came a day after India lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka over the death of three Indian fishermen following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft.

“Our strong protest in regard to this incident was conveyed by our High Commissioner to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister today. A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan Acting High Commissioner in New Delhi,” the MEA said in a statement.

“Expressing our deep anguish at the loss of lives, we emphasized the need to deal with issues pertaining to fishermen in a humanitarian manner. Existing understandings between the two Governments in that regard must be strictly observed. Utmost efforts should be made to ensure that there is no recurrence,” the MEA had maintained.

Earlier at the 4th Joint Working Group Meeting on Fisheries between the two countries in December, India had reiterated its commitment to working constructively with the Sri Lankan side to address all issues related to fishermen and their livelihoods in a humanitarian manner and in line with past understanding.

Referring to the apprehension of 40 Indian fishermen and 6 boats by Sri Lankan Navy during the Joint Working Group Meeting, India had called the Sri Lankan side to ensure their early release and till such time, to provide necessary facilitation including consular access and necessary assistance.