Fishermen’s killing: Sri Lanka wants more information

January 31st, 2011 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 31 (IANS) Sri Lanka Monday requested India to provide additional information on the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy even as the two countries agreed to convene a joint meeting of a panel to enhance cooperation in the field of fisheries. India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris here. She conveyed India’s “deep concerns” over issues relating to the safety and welfare of Indian fishermen, who have allegedly been targeted by Sri Lankan Navy personnel.

She also met Lalith Weeratunga, secretary to the president, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Secretary C.R. Jayasinghe and discussed these issues in greater detail.

During the discussions, Rao expressed the deep concern of the Indian government at the recent violent incidents in the waters between India and Sri Lanka, which had resulted in the death of two Indian fishermen, a joint statement said at the end of Rao’s two-day visit to Colombo that ended Sunday.

Rao “stressed that these incidents should be fully investigated and all steps taken to prevent their recurrence in future.”

The Sri Lanka authorities stressed that it was their consistent policy to treat in a humanitarian manner all fishermen, including those from the Indian fishing community, who cross into Sri Lanka waters.

“The government of Sri Lanka is committed to ascertaining the facts behind the incidents,” the statement said.

“While continuing with further inquiries, the Sri Lankan authorities have requested that additional information be made available by the Indian side,” it said, while recording that both sides agreed that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances.

The two sides decided to hold the next meeting of the joint working group on fishing soon to address various issues related to fishing by the two sides.

The joint panel would also address the proposed memorandum of understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries.

“It was decided as well to enhance and promote contacts between the fishermen’s associations on both sides, since such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial,” the statement said.

Rao’s visit to Colombo came against the backdrop of outrage in Tamil Nadu over the recent killing of two Indian fishermen in the waters between the two countries.

The issue of attacks on Tamil fishermen is an emotive one that may get played up in the assembly elections in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu later this year.

Then Sri Lankan Navy has denied any involvement in the attacks on Indian fishermen.

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