NEW DELHI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Tuesday said that the country would remain engaged with Sri Lanka for getting the Indian fishermen and their boats in the custody of authorities in the neighboring island nation released.
This assurance was given by Swaraj to a delegation of fishermen from the southern state of Tamil Nadu who had called on her in the Indian capital, in the wake of the recent death of an Indian fishermen in alleged firing by Sri Lankan Navy.
The minister had said the country has already taken up the issue of its fishermen with Sri Lanka through diplomatic channels.
"We have taken up the issue of our fishermen with the Sri Lankan government to ensure that our fishermen are treated in a humane manner," Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament).
The minister said that a fishing vessel from Tamil Nadu (southern state) was fired upon allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy recently, leading to the death of an Indian fisherman, and Indian government took up the matter and "expressed our strong concern over the incident."
Swaraj's statement came a week after a 22-year-old Indian fisherman was shot dead allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy while he was fishing in a mechanized boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet off the coast of Tamil Nadu, along with other fishermen.
The incident took place on March 6. Fisherman K. Britjo, was killed in the firing, another sustained injuries, while others escaped without injuries. The Sri Lankan Navy has denied firing at the Indian fishermen.
Tamil Nadu claims Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen have traditional rights to fish in both territories. The state is also working legally and politically to retrieve the Katchatheevu islet India had gifted Sri Lanka in the early 70s, so that Indian fishermen would get more space to fish.