Killing fishermen unacceptable: India

Sri Lankan govt asked to investigate second such incident, says External Affairs Ministry

Killing fishermen unacceptable: India

The Centre reacted tersely to the killing of Jayakumar, a fisherman from Tamil Nadu’s coastal hamlet of Pushpavanam when he had gone fishing with two others on Saturday about 20 kilometers  (11 nautical miles) south-east of Kodiakarai on Tamil Nadu’s coastline—reportedly within the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna termed the alleged killing by Sri Lankan naval personnel “unacceptable” while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in Chennai on Sunday, came down on Sri Lanka for the indiscriminate firing.

Krishna said the Ministry of External Affairs would take up the matter with the Sri Lankan government and sought a report from the Indian High Commission in Colombo. Mukherjee also promised full Central help to stop such killings. The External Affairs Minister’s office also got in touch with the Tamil Nadu government seeking details of the latest incident.

Jayakumar was the second fisherman allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan navy, after a similar incident in which Veerapandian from Jagadapattinam in the state was shot dead at Palk Strait on January 12.

Jayakumar, his brother Senthil and another fisherman Rajendran ventured into the sea for fishing early on Saturday. Their boat was intercepted by a vessel of the island nation’s navy. The Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly forced Senthil and Rajendran to jump into the sea and tied a rope from their vessel around Jayakumar’s neck before dragging him out of his boat and strangulating him. Jayakumar’s body was brought to his village early on Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s envoy to India, Prasad Kariyawasam, however, said his country’s naval personnel had no role in the deaths of the two fishermen, who were killed at Palk Strait within a span of 10 days this month. He, however, once again promised a serious probe into the incidents.

The MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the government immediately took up the matter with the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi as well as with the authorities of the island nation through the Indian High Commission in Colombo.

“The Sri Lankan government was requested to seriously investigate the incident and ensure that it does not recur,” said the MEA in a statement. Sri Lankan navy is often accused of firing at fishermen from India, who cross the IMBL. India on Sunday once again reminded Sri Lanka that the October 2008 understanding reached between the two governments should be “scrupulously adhered to in letter and spirit”.

The issue of death of fishermen also came up during the meeting Mukherjee had with DMK chief and TN Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. Sharing Karunanidhi’s agony, Mukherjee told reporters that if the fishermen “had done something wrong (by straying into Lankan waters)”, they should have been arrested and handed over to us. “There is no point in shooting at these fisermen,” Mukherjee said after the 30-minute meeting. Mukherjee assured Karunanidhi that through the Foreign Ministry he would take up this issue.
 

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