The government has denied reports that the navy had attacked Indian fishermen off the Kodiakarai coast yesterday.
A statement by the External Affairs Ministry said that on seeing reports in the media on an incident of alleged firing at Indian fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy off the Kodiakarai coast, an investigation had been carried out.
“The External Affairs Ministry said that it was revealed that naval vessels had not entered Indian waters at any time either on 6 or 7 March, as alleged. It was further revealed that no Sri Lankan Naval craft had opened fire at any fishing vessel or any other object on 6 or 7 March in the area,” the External Affairs Ministry said.
The navy expresses concern over the large number of fishermen from Southern India crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and fishing in Sri Lankan waters on a regular basis.
The navy had arrested 16 fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters off the north-western coast on 3 March, the External Affairs Ministry said.
“The Sri Lanka Navy reiterates its commitment to not use force under any circumstances and extend humane treatment to all fishermen at all times,” the External Affairs Ministry added.
The Hindu newspaper had reported earlier that a fisherman from Karaikal was injured when he was fired upon allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, about 11 nautical miles off the Kodiakarai coast.
Shenbagam (40) of Kilinjamedu was shot in the back while steering one of two mechanised boats in which a group of fishermen ventured into the sea last Saturday. A few others escaped, the fishermen said in a police complaint later, the Hindu newspaper report said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa voiced serious concern over such incidents and demanded that the Union government take firm action.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, she said the latest incident was an attempt to intimidate India and “browbeat” it into not raising its voice against Sri Lankan authorities in international forums. (Colombo Gazette)