Indian fishermen allege attack by Sri Lankan Navy

January 9th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu), Jan 9 (IANS) Some Indian fishermen have alleged they were beaten up by Sri Lankan Navy personnel near the Kachchatheevu island in the early hours of Friday but there has been no official confirmation of the attack.”We were fishing around Kachchatheevu island and the Lankan Navy suddenly surrounded us and beat us up. We were also attacked with bayonets,” K. Albert Raju, one of the fishermen, told reporters.

He showed injuries on his arms and legs and alleged he and at least five others aboard four fishing boats had been attacked by Sri Lankan naval personnel. The last such incident is alleged to have taken place only 10 days ago.

An Indian defence official said on condition of anonymity: “Since we are on high alert to prevent any unidentified craft crossing into our borders due to fears of infiltration from the sea, the report surprises us.”

Speaking on the phone from state capital Chennai, 600 km north of here, Sri Lankan diplomatic sources also denied any hand on the part of the defence establishment.

“Our naval officials told us they were nowhere in the vicinity of Kachchatheevu at that time,” the source said.

Kachchatheevu, an an atoll in the Palk Strait, the narrow expanse of water that separates India and Sri Lanka, was ceded to the neighbouring island nation in 1974.

Sri Lankan authorities often allege the hand of the rebel Tamil Tigers in such attacks in order to whip up Tamil sentiments in India to support its separatist struggle.

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