Days after the Sri Lankan Navy seized a number of trawlers and fisherfolk from Tamil Nadu on the charges of trespassing into the neighbouring country's waters, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday, 21 December, said that legal representation was being arranged for the detainees.

"We are concerned at the detention of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by Sri Lankan authorities between 18-20 December 2021. As per our information, 68 fishermen and 10 boats have been taken into custody," the ministry said in a statement.

"Officials from the Consulate General of India, Jaffna, have met the detained fishermen and are providing all necessary support. This includes clothes, toiletries, snacks, dry essentials and masks, besides facilitating phone calls to relatives. They are also arranging legal representation."

The Indian High Commission in Colombo has taken up the issue of early release of the Indian fisherfolk and boats with the Government of Sri Lanka, as per the MEA.

What Had Happened

On Saturday, in waters south-east of the Delft Island, a Fast Attack Craft of the 04th Fast Attack Craft Flotilla (4 FAF) attached to the Northern Naval Command took hold of six Indian fishing vessels with 43 Indian fishermen aboard.

Two trawlers, with 12 Indian fishermen onboard, were seized from the seas south of Mannar by Inshore Patrol Craft attached to the North Central Naval Command the next day.

"It's condemnable that the Sri Lankan Navy has arrested our fishermen. I spoke with EAM, sent him a detailed letter and he has assured to follow it up. We'll certainly ensure our fishermen's safety and right to livelihood," Chief Minister MK Stalin had tweeted.

"External Affairs Minister has received representations on this issue from various political parties. He was also called on the matter by Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu. He has apprised them all of the current situation and underlined Government of India’s efforts to secure early release," the MEA said on Tuesday.