Fisherman’s death: India tells Sri Lanka to avoid force

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NEW DELHI/CHENNAI - India Thursday expressed “deep concern” at the killing of a fisherman by the Sri Lankan navy the day before and asked Colombo to avoid force while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “personal intervention” to put an end to such incidents.

“We have received reports of the death of an Indian fisherman due to firing by Sri Lankan Navy personnel,” India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said in New Delhi.

“India’s high commissioner in Colombo has immediately taken up the matter with the Sri Lankan government and expressed our deep concern and regret at this incident,” Prakash added.

The Sri Lankan Navy reportedly opened fire on three Indian fishermen at sea near the Tamil Nadu coast, leading to the death of one, Veerapandian, Wednesday evening.

New Delhi has conveyed to Colombo that resorting “to firing in these situations has no justification and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to desist from use of force”.

“The welfare and safety of our fishermen in the waters between India and Sri Lanka have received very high priority by the government,” said the spokesperson.

“We call on the Sri Lankan Navy to exercise maximum restraint and avoid use of force in such situations,” the spokesperson said while stressing that the Sri Lankan government should refrain from firing on Indian fishermen and scrupulously adhere to the October 2008 understanding reached between the two governments.

The Manmohan Singh government’s strongly-worded response came after Karunanidhi ratcheted up pressure, demanded stern action against the killing of Veerapandian by the Sri Lankan Navy Wednesday evening.

“The atrocities of the Sri Lankan Navy are continuing unabated, in spite of repeated assurances given by both Government of India as well as Sri Lankan government, he said in a telegram to the prime minister.

“This particular incident may be taken up with the government of Sri Lanka for immediate action against those responsible for shooting and killing. Your personal intervention is requested for firm action to put an end to such killings.”

The killing of Veerapandian was raised in the state assembly as well.

Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said in the assembly that the killings continued despite the state government taking up the matter with New Delhi, which in turn took up the matter with Sri Lanka.

Stalin was responding to a calling attention motion, which was moved by various parties, including the AIADMK, Congress, PMK, MDMK, VCK, Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)

He said the government had announced compensation of Rs.500,000 to the family of the fisherman, who was shot dead, and the amount would be paid by Thursday evening.

According to him, Veerapandian and four others hailing from Nagapattinam district were fishing about 15 nautical miles Wednesday evening when the Sri Lankan navy boat opened fire at them.

Veerapandian was injured in the shooting and he was taken to shore and then to a hospital.

Around 100 fishermen staged a demonstration on the East Coast Road demanding action.

Stalin said the fishermen called off their agitation as officials of the district administration and fisheries department held talks with the protesters and promised compensation of Rs.500,000 and a government job for Veerapandian’s sister.

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