Colombo: Sri Lanka Navy has rescued six distressed Indian fishermen who drifted into the country’s waters north of Talaimannar after their trawler suffered an engine failure, a statement said on Monday.
The rescued fishermen were provided humanitarian assistance and handed over to another Indian fishing trawler at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), Newsfirst Lanka news portal cited the Sri Lankan Navy Media Unit as saying in a statement.
The Indian trawler that drifted in the island’s waters north of Talaimannar was on Sunday morning spotted by Sri Lankan Navy Ship Ranajaya while patrolling in the sea.
The Navy said the Indian fishermen’s trawler had swept towards Sri Lankan waters because of an engine failure.
The Navy then rescued the six Indian fishermen aboard the vessel and provided them food, drink, and other humanitarian assistance, the statement said.
SLNS Ranajaya then escorted the distressed Indian fishing trawler and the fishermen to the IMBL and handed them over to another Indian trawler, ensuring their safe return to their homeland.
The statement added that the Navy, which remains committed towards its obligations of the international conventions, provides necessary assistance to the naval and fishing communities in distress in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.
The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with the Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Sri Lankan’s territorial waters.
The Palk Strait, which is a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.
There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen being apprehended by Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters.