Wisu Karunanidhi and Lahiru Fernando
The fisheries issue in the Palk Strait and the situation of detained Indian fisher crews as well as co-operation against cross-border extremist terror outfits were subjects of discussion when rising Tamil Nadu politician and Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday. At the meeting, MP Kanimozhi (daughter of the late legendary Tamil Nadu leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi) spoke of the long standing cordial relationship between India and Sri Lanka, according to official sources.
Ms. Karunanidhi, who was accompanied by two other Indian MPs, had mentioned that the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was known to her father and had said that her visit was to further cement Indo-Sri Lanka relations. The Indian MP is currently on a private visit to the island.
During the meeting, the Indian delegation requested the Prime Minister and the Government of Sri Lanka to treat the fisherfolk issue in a manner as humanely as possible. They had mentioned that some of the Indian fishermen who were arrested were detained for two years, which was a long time. Although the Indian MPs did not make a formal request to release the fishing boats currently in Sri Lankan custody, it was mentioned during the meeting, sources told the Daily News.
The Prime Minister explained that many steps have been taken to strengthen the regional co-operation which will be further expanded by the setting up of the Jaffna international airport. He told the delegtion that flights from Jaffna airport will service four cities in India. He said that any individual wishing to go abroad currently spends nearly Rs. 35 000 to come from Jaffna to Colombo but once the Jaffna airport is in operation the individual may save that cost.
Ms. Kanimozhi said they were deeply concerned to hear of the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and expressed solidarity with the Sri Lankan people. The Indian delegation noted that Sri Lankan Muslims stood firm and had rejected the terrorists which helped in quelling the situation.
Minister Rauff Hakeem who was also present at the meeting said that it was particularly under this government that minority Tamils and Muslims felt safe.
Kanimozhi Karunanidhi arrived in the island on a personal visit on Wednesday.
Karunanidhi, accompanied by the two other Indian MPs, later held a bilateral meeting with the State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dilip Wedaarachchi yesterday. At the meeting, matters relating to the Indian fishermens’ issue were discussed and the State Minister had agreed to conduct an officials’ level meeting to find solutions to these issues.
Wedaarachchi was accompanied to the meeting by State Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Economic Affairs Ameer Ali and State Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment Ali Zahir Moulana.
Karunanidhi arrived in the country to attend the wedding of Minister Rauff Hakeem’s daughter.