Govt. denies Navy attacked Indian fishermen

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 00:24 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The government today denied that the Navy has been involved in the alleged attacks on the Indian fishermen and said it was anxious to ascertain the facts behind the alleged incidents.

Issuing a statement Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry said the government is seeking more information from India through diplomatic channels and further investigations will be conducted based on the information it receives.

The Ministry, referring to two incidents that had allegedly taken place in the waters between the two countries on or around 12 and 23 January, said that as soon as the reports appeared, the Navy was instructed to start their own inquiry.

India on Sunday strongly condemned the alleged attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel that led to the death of two fishermen and requested the Sri Lankan government to seriously investigate the incident.

India’s External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna has called the situation ‘unacceptable’ and asked the Indian High Commission in Colombo to provide a report on the allegations.

The Sri Lankan government said its Navy has the facility of keeping track of the precise location of any of its vessels at any given time, especially when they are deployed in the waters between the two countries.

“Based on the data recorded by these facilities, it is clear that there were no Sri Lanka Navy vessels in the vicinity of the locations, where the incidents are alleged to have occurred,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Indian media citing fishermen reported that Sri Lankan Naval personnel on Saturday tied a rope around the neck of a fisherman pulling him into the sea and drowned him.

Earlier reports said a fisherman from Tamil Nadu was killed and another injured after the Sri Lankan navy opened fire on them at sea near the Tamil Nadu coast.

The External Affairs Ministry stressed that it is the consistent policy of Sri Lanka to treat in a humanitarian manner all fishermen, including those from the Indian fishing community, who cross into Sri Lanka waters.

The government said in keeping with this policy, the Sri Lanka Navy has within the last 12 months afforded assistance to 32 Indian fishermen and 10 Indian fishing vessels.

Sri Lanka says as it assigns highest priority to its very close bilateral relationship with India, the well-being of the Indian fishing community is of the utmost concern.

For this purpose, the government has requested the fullest possible information from the Indian authorities through diplomatic channels.

“The Ministry of External Affairs wishes to emphasise that as and when this information is made available, further investigations based on the additional data that may be provided, would be conducted,” the statement said.