The Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday denied allegations that it had shot Indian fishermen who had illegally strayed into local waters and said such an action would be taken only as their “final resort”.
Sri Lanka’s response came a day after the Indian government requested the Sri Lankan Navy to act with restraint and not to fire on Indian fishermen if they stray into the waters of the island nation.
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, V K Singh, said there have been six cases of alleged attack on Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters and India had taken up the issue with Sri Lanka.
However, Navy Spokesperson, Commander Indika Silva, told newsmen that the Sri Lankan Navy had treated Indian fishermen in a humane manner in the past.
Silva said in spite of several warnings by the Sri Lankan side, Indian fishermen who had continued to illegally cross the International Maritime Boundary had only been arrested.
Sri Lanka and India have been trying to resolve the long-standing fishermen issue with both sides having to face arrest and boats being detained when they stray into each other’s waters illegally.
Discussions between Sri Lankan and Indian fishermen were held for the first time in Chennai in March to thrash out the issue of fishing in the Palk Strait and Palk Bay.
Meanwhile, the talks ended on a positive note with the Indian fishers agreeing to abandon trawling in the Palk Strait in three years time.
However, a request by the Indian fishermen to be allowed to enter Sri Lankan waters for 83 days in a year had been denied by the Sri Lankan government, maintaining that such a request would not be granted even in the future. (Xinhua/NAN)

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