Karunanidhi asks Colombo to respect bilateral accord on fishermen

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - Slamming the Sri Lankan Navy for the alleged killing of Indian fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Tuesday asked the Rajapaksa government to respect a 2008 agreement on not firing upon fishermen who ventured into their waters.

Expressing satisfaction over Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s talks Monday with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in this regard, Karunanidhi said: “The Sri Lankan government should go by the joint statement on fishing which provides that fishermen will not be fired upon.”

He said that fishermen, who accidentally venture into other countries, are not fired upon but apprehended and returned to their respective countries. “But Indian fishermen are repeatedly subjected to bodily harm and harassment and at times killing by the Sri Lankan Navy when they inadvertently cross the international maritime borders,” he said.

The Rajapaksa government must be asked to follow the international law just as India did in the case of Sri Lankan fishermen who crossed over to Indian waters.

Thanking the central government, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for taking up the matter with Sri Lanka, Karunanidhi said he was briefed by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Nirupama Rao on their discussion with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had ordered a high-level probe into the Indian fishermen killing.

Karunanidhi, who left for Chennai after wrapping up his three-day visit, said that Krishna informed him that a meeting of the India-Sri Lanka joint working group would be convened soon to discuss the fishermen killings.

Coming out of the meeting, Krishna told reporters that New Delhi had asked Colombo not to use force against Indian fishermen and that a recurrence of such attacks could strain bilateral ties.

Krishna said external affairs officials had told their Sri Lankan counterparts that even Pakistan did not kill fishermen crossing over into their waters.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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