Prime minister Dinesh Gunawardena has been strongly condemned for having expressed an agreement to allow India to carryout fishing in the northern waters.
Gunawardena told Tamil Nadu’s Thanthi TV on 06 October that discussions were ongoing with regard to issuing licenses to Indian fishermen.
The matter came up during president Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to New Delhi, he said.
“Yes, there is readiness. Support of fishermen in both sides is essential. This has nothing to do with the governments. It is a matter for fishermen. Understanding is needed in this matter,” he told the television channel.
This was denounced by secretary of the fishermen’s collective in the northern province N.M. Alam, who accused the government of having double-standards with regard to fishermen in the south and the north.
“They see northern fishermen in one light, and see their own fishermen in the south in another. The government has divided the northern province as the Tamil speaking people and the area of the Tamil people.”
“Would the prime minister have said the same thing had Indian fishermen been fishing in Negombo or Chilaw? Will he be allowed to do so by those people,” he asked.
Noting that fishing is the only livelihood for more than 200,000 northern fishermen and their dependents, Alam stressed that foreigners would not be allowed under any circumstances to take over the country’s resources.
See below the interview given by the premier to Thanthi TV: