Swaraj’s visit to Sri Lanka comes just days after nine Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters were arrested by Sri Lankan authorities.
Swaraj is on a two day official visit and will co-chair the 9th Joint Commission meeting in Colombo with Sri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera where key bilateral issues of Sri Lanka and India will be discussed.
Incidentally, the Indian minister’s visit comes after Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha sought intervention of Indian premier Narendra Modi to secure the release of 15 fishermen and several boats which are currently in Sri Lankan custody.
During her visit, Swaraj is also scheduled to meet President Maithripala Sirisena.
During an interview with a Tamil TV channel in last March, the Prime Minister had made very strong comments regarding the contentious fishermen issue that has ruffled the Indian government feathers, particularly since he had justified the shooting of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka Navy.
“The Sri Lankan navy is only acting as per law when it fires at Indian fishermen entering Lankan waters and therefore they should keep away,” the PM had told Thanthi TV broadcast last evening. He has made these controversial comments while talks are ongoing between the fishermen groups from both sides.
“If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed, law allows me to do that . . . This is our waters. Fishermen of Jaffna should be allowed to fish. We stopped them from fishing. That’s why the Indian fishermen came in. They (Jaffna fishermen) are willing to have a deal. Let’s have a reasonable settlement but not at the cost of the livelihood of northern fishermen,” he had said and adding insult to injury, he had gone on to state that he does not perceive the shooting of fishermen as amounting to human rights violations.
These comments have sparked uproar amongst Indian politicians who have strongly criticized the PM’s statements. Congress leader Manish Tewari has criticized the BJP, as he questioned whether the Indian diplomacy has stooped to such a level that Sri Lanka is threatening to shoot fishermen who inadvertently crossed the international boundary.