Indian fisherman killed, Sri Lankan mission denies its navy’s hand (Lead, Changing dateline)

September 29th, 2008 - 1:02 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghRameshwaram/Chennai, Sep 28 (IANS) An Indian fisherman was killed Sunday in an alleged firing by the Sri Lankan navy in Palk Strait off the Tamil Nadu coast but the island’s deputy high commission denied the accusation.”Upon verification, we learnt that our navy was nowhere in the vicinity of Kachchatheevu. We suspect the attack was orchestrated by third parties, possibly the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), to strain the warm and cordial relations with India,” the deputy high commission said in a press statement issued in Chennai.

In the morning, eyewitnesses alleged the hand of the Sri Lankan navy in a strafing incident that left Doraiswamy, 35, dead near Kachchatheevu, an islet ceded to Sri Lanka in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government handed over a cheque of Rs.300,000 to the deceased fisherman’s family as ex gratia payment.

The Left parties will protest against the island’s alleged high-handedness later in the coming week, their leaders announced in separate meetings in the state.

Local fishing community leaders, incensed over the alleged killing on the Palk Strait - the narrow expanse of water separating India and Sri Lanka - have called for immediate intervention by the government of India to stop it and threatened to begin an indefinite strike, earlier reports said.

So far, over 30 Indian fishermen have lost their lives allegedly due to Sri Lankan naval firing this year.

During the recent South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapakse had jointly stated the killings would end.

Following the announcement, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation had announced that Indian fishermen could fish freely and peacefully in the Palk Strait.

Rameshwaram, the Indian fishing port on the northern edge of the Palk Strait, is situated 600 km south of Chennai.

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