10 Sri Lankan fishermen caught off Chennai coast

April 12th, 2008 - 5:13 am ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Chennai, April 11 (IANS) Ten Sri Lankan nationals were nabbed off the coast of Chennai by Indian fishermen after a mid-sea fracas Friday. “We are in the process of getting them remanded in judicial custody,” a police official at Kasimedu, the fishing harbour in the city’s northern edge, said.

“The Sinhalese fishermen attacked a few of our boats, snatched the catch and equipments like GPS consoles yesterday (Thursday). We caught the 10 men who were in two boats flying Indian flags. We have handed them over to the police here,” Anthony Mari, a local fisherman, said.

“We are told that there are over 100 such vessels operating in the vicinity stretching up to 75 (nautical) km from the shore,” he said.

Police officials were dismissive of the whole thing.

“These drunken fishermen fought with some Sri Lankans at sea and have created a nuisance for us,” the official said.

However, defence experts expressed concern.

“Even if only 20 percent of what the fishermen say is true, we look at this development as a serious defence question. The eastern coast is dotted with vital installations. We have no mechanism of correctly identifying or verifying the nationality and motives of these unidentified, uncontrolled craft,” Colonel Hariharan (retd), an expert on the defence aspects of southern India, told IANS.

“This can lead to compromise of our security, particularly those of sensitive establishments along the coast and VIP movement because of the possibility of infiltration. I can say this on the basis of our past experience,” Colonel Hariharan added.

Defence officials, however, refused to comment.

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