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Sri Lanka Navy denies allegations

Sri Lanka Navy today denied allegations of shooting dead a 22 year old fisherman from Tamil Nadu while he was fishing allegedly a short distance off the Katchatheevu islet.

Tamil Nadu fisheries officials pointed the finger at Sri Lankan Navy personnel for the death of one fisherman and injuring another.

Speaking to the Indian media Fisheries Department Assistant Director Kulanchinathan said the incident occurred when the fishermen from Thangachimadam in central Rameswaram of Tamil Nadu, was fishing near the islet.

Kulanchinathan alleged that Sri Lankan naval personnel had arrived at the spot and fired at the fishermen.

The 22 year old fisherman was shot in the neck and had died on the spot, while another fisherman was shot in his leg. The other fisherman at the scene had escaped unhurt and returned to shore at around 12.30 a.m, Kulanchinathan claimed.

Rameswaram Fishermen Association President P Sesuraja told PTI that more than 2,000 fishermen were fishing well within Indian waters when the Sri Lankan naval personnel came to the spot taking them by surprise. The Lankan navy officials did not even fire a warning shot, he alleged.

However, when contacted Sri Lanka Navy Spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Chaminda Walakuluge vehemently denied such allegations and stated the Navy had never been ordered to fire at Indian fishermen nor had they done so.

Navy sources also said smugglers most often used the sea route and there were incidents reported quite often. “The fishermen may have been caught in the cross fire or they could have been part of the smuggling operations. When something like this happens they point the finger at the Sri Lankan Navy,” the sources said.

The Tamil Nadu government also protested the "escalation" in apprehension of its fishermen by Sri Lanka and said the Centre did "not seem to put adequate pressure" on Colombo regarding the matter.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami had referred to the arrest of 32 Indian fishermen by the Lankan authorities in the last few days and said these incidents were causing hardship and mental agony to the fishermen community. (Darshana Sanjeewa)