New Delhi: The visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, said in the capital that the Sri Lankan fishermen on “the Jaffna side” are suffering and that the two sides were discussing the matter. He also said the government was working towards returning land occupied by the Army for operational reasons earlier during the battle with the LTTE to their owners.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister indicated he had been at the receiving end of the ire of Sri Lankan fishermen in Jaffna (who are upset at Indian fishermen fishing in Sri Lankan waters). Mr Wickremasinghe also said the fishermen's association of the two countries were in touch.
When asked about the arrest of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Mr Wickremasinghe said these Indian fishermen had broken Sri Lankan laws (by fishing in Sri Lankan waters). In response to another question, he also said there was no discrimination against Hindus and pointed out that the Hindu deity Lord
Vishnu is worshipped at Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka. Earlier in the day, talking about Saarc, the PM said, “Sri Lanka has options” and added that if things within Saarc did not improve, “each country will have to look at its options”. The Sri Lankan PM also commended India for its “strategic restraint” in the wake of the Uri terror attack and surgical strikes on terrorists, saying “PM Modi has handled it well so far”.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister also said that “cross-border terrorism is on the table” before the Saarc nations but that war was not an option between India and Pakistan.
“Cross-border terrorism is on the table. Saarc has to look at it and discuss what has happened (cancellation of the Saarc meet). How we are going to handle it...Saarc has to decide on two issues -- cross-border terrorism and areas in which we can work together. ... If we don't do it, there is no future for Saarc,” the Sri Lankan PM said.
“It (the Indo-Pak friction has already impacted (Saarc),” Mr Wickremasinghe said, adding that things seemed "finished" and that “nothing has moved in the last few years”. He further said, "We might as well look at this and decide once and for all if it is not worth going along," he said, in an anguished tone. "Your Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and I discussed it extensively today. We all felt ... let's see how we handle it,” Mr Wickremasinghe said.
When asked what the options were before Sri Lanka, he said the Sri Lankans were internally discussing it. But the Sri Lankan Prime Minister also said that “there should be no cross-border terrorism in India”....