By Shenali D Waduge
There is something more than fishy about the sudden surge in Indian fishermen poaching on Sri Lankan territorial waters leading to a diplomatic debacle between India and Sri Lanka. Given that the culprits are fishermen and fishing is their livelihood what no one seems to answer is, did the LTTE face similar incursions by Indian fishermen and if so how did India, Tamil Nadu and the LTTE deal with the matter? It is pretty obvious that if Indian fishermen did not intrude into Sri Lankan waters during LTTE defacto rule or if they did it would have been with some explicit mutual understanding and explains why Tamil Nadu or India did not send its External Affairs Minister to demand why Indian fishermen were being illtreated by the LTTE as India is currently doing against the GOSL. If we wondered where some of LTTE’s arms and other logistics came from we should now know the answer including mercenary forces replenished when cadres were in scarcity. Now what would India’s External Affairs Minister have to say about this!
Let us first look at who these Indian fishermen are. For starters they do not have Bachelors or Masters Degrees to know where or how to differentiate international maritime boundary. There are 396,000 of them too and Tamil Nadu is the 3rd largest fish exporting state. The fishing fleet consists of about 46,000 crafts. Therefore, it is natural that any fishermen would stray into waters that fish abound more so since there is no marine wealth in the Indian side and fish abound in Sri Lankan waters. If more than 1000 Indian boats stray into Sri Lankan waters daily – did such a number arrive during LTTE rule?
Next we come to the issue of fishermen and smuggling and LTTE would know better than any how that combination works given that Prabakran himself was a very versatile smuggler for both guns and drug trafficking. Notice the surge in drug trafficking from India to Sri Lanka of late and the number of arrests made. Prudent to also note is the rise in human smuggling and number of smugglers and the story is much more than going to a western country for better living. 400 or more Indian trawlers penetrating the Indian Coast guards can equate to smuggling far more than drugs, humans and when there is a chorus for the Sri Lankan military to depart from the North coming from the Indian Government, Tamil Nadu down to the TNA politicians we smell not fish but rats as well!
The LTTE-Tamil Nadu ties is nothing we need to return to and nothing India or Tamil Nadu can take offence against or challenge. More....