'Settle fishermen issue before ETCA pact with India'

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Colombo, March 25: Sri Lankan professional groups, opposed to the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement with India, have called for settling of the thorny fishermen issue between the two countries before the pact is signed.

"We ask the government to work out a solution with India for the fishing issue. Millions worth our fishing resources are plundered everyday," Channa Jayasumana, the convener of the United Professionals Association, said at public rally held yesterday here.

"The proposed agreement will be four times beneficial to India, our chances will remain same. What we witness now is that Indian leaders have their interests while our leaders are not interested to safeguard our rights," Jayasumana alleged.

"Are they (the government) fearing (Narendra) Modi? We will tell them, that we will stand by them if they want to face that threat," he said.

Jayasumana called for settling the thorny fishermen issue between the two countries before signing the pact.

The professional groups and opposition parties have stepped up their campaign against the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

They claim that it will deprive employment opportunities to the locals in most service sectors with an influx of Indian labour in to Sri Lanka.

The government denies the charge and accuses protesting groups of carrying out a public campaign without even knowing the contents of the pact. The ETCA draft is being currently studied by India, officials said.

PTI 

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