Sri Lanka’s Navy has reported that it blocked 11 Indian fishing vessels from entering Sri Lankan waters and detained 86 individuals before sending them back to India.
These arrests come as Sri Lanka’s Navy has intensified surveillance of waters in the North-Western and Northern waters. Sri Lanka’s Fishery Minister, and leader of the pro-government paramilitary Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), Douglas Devananda has maintained that the detention of Tamil Nadu fishermen will continue.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader, M. Thambidurai, stated in February that thus far 245 fishermen had been killed in Sri Lanka with their deaths being linked to the Navy.
Sri Lanka’s Navy reported that a similar patrol occurred in the south of Mannar where a further 11 fishing vessels were blocked. Sri Lanka’s army has continuously posed a serious issue to the livelihood of Tamil farmers across the North-East. In February, soldiers blocked Tamil locals from fishing in Kurunthoor kulam (lagoon) located in Kurunthoormalai, Mullaitivu. In the past, the Navy has implemented a “pass system” which effectively barred Tamil fishermen from accessing fishing waters for months and only permitting those with military approval.
In response to these arrests, the Navy has maintained that these arrests were because of the coronavirus, “we did not want to take a risk and bring them ashore”. India is currently struggling with a spike in cases, with 357, 229 new cases reported in the latest 24-hour period. The total number of deaths in India caused by the virus have exceeded 222,408.