Sri Lankan Navy denies reports of shooting Indian fishermen

Colombo [Sri Lanka], Mar. 7 (ANI): The Sri Lankan Navy has categorically denied media reports that they shot at Indian fishermen on Monday night.

"It is stated that the Sri Lankan Navy patrols in the Northern waters are conducted by Fast Attack Craft and Fast Gun Boats and at no time, are small boats being engaged for patrols off the Northern waters, since Indian trawlers are of quite large size," the Navy said in a statement.

Earlier, it was reported that a group of Indian fishermen, who were fishing between Danushkodi and Katchatheevu off the Tamil Nadu coast, were allegedly fired upon by small boats of the Sri Lankan Navy in which one fisherman was killed.

The navy added in its statement, "Even these (Fast Attack Craft and Fast Gun Boats) boats are not authorised to open fire at any point without prior approval of the Commander of the Navy."

The Sri Lankan navy said the patrolling boats are clearly instructed to arrest fishermen poaching inside Sri Lankan territorial waters and are subsequently handed over to the Fisheries authorities for onward legal action.

It said that at present there are 146 Indian trawlers and 85 fishermen arrested for poaching in the Sri Lankan waters, awaiting legal action.

However, the navy said that since there is an allegation of a shooting incident, it is carrying out a comprehensive investigation to find out the veracity of this alleged incident.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India has said the Government of India is deeply concerned at the killing of an Indian fisherman, adding that the Sri Lankan Navy has promised a full and thorough investigation in the matter.

"The Government of India is deeply concerned at the killing of an Indian fisherman. Our High Commissioner to Sri Lanka has taken up the matter with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Navy has promised a full and thorough investigation," MEA official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in a statement.

The deceased was identified as a 22-year-old man named Pricho and his body was brought to the Rameshwaram Government Hospital at around 12:30 p.m.

As per reports, around 500 boats went for fishing on Friday evening from here and around 9 p.m. The Sri Lankan navy started firing in which Pricho died of the bullet injury on his neck and another man named Saravanan got injured.

Meanwhile, a case had been registered in the local police station.

According to reports, around three more fishermen have suffered injuries in the firing which occurred in Adambalam, that comes under the Indian territory.

Last week, 15 Indian fishermen were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy and all their equipment and fishing gear were taken away.

The fresh incident of opening fire comes a day after Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy wrote to the Centre over it not taking concrete steps to stop the steady harassment of fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

The letter spoke in detail about how Indian fishermen were constantly being hauled by the Lankan Navy and also about their equipment and boats being seized without any law being followed. (ANI)