The Sri Lankan navy has promised a thorough probe into the killing of an Indian fisherman but denied that it was responsible for his death after India raised the issue with Sri Lanka’s prime minister. The 22-year-old Indian fisherman was shot dead on Monday while he was fishing in a mechanised boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet. Local fishermen alleged that he was killed by the Sri Lanka Navy.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry said, “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 (Ranil Wickremesinghe). The Sri Lankan Navy has promised a full and thorough investigation.”
Sri Lankan Navy Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Chaminda Walakuluge categorically denied any involvement of the navy in the fisherman’s killing.
The navy does not open fire at poaching fishermen and only make arrests of them, he said in Colombo.
The Sri Lankan ministry of fisheries said Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has written to the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence to carry out an investigation on the alleged shooting.
In his letter, Amaraweera has said the navy has denied firing at the fishermen but in order to maintain good relations with India it was important to launch a probe on the Indian accusations of shooting, the ministry said.
The killing has triggered protests in Tamil Nadu, where Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami condemned the incident and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the victim’s family.
Palaniswami said the state government has been repeatedly taking up with Centre the various instances of arrest and “intimidation” of fishermen by the Lankan Navy, besides seizure of their boats and pressed for a lasting solution.
Hundreds of fishermen also staged a demonstration in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.