Sri Lanka Navy has denied the allegation that its naval personnel attacked Indian fishermen in the seas off Kachchativu Island on Saturday.
Responding to a report in The Hindu on Monday, the Navy expressed its “deep concerns over the malicious allegations made repeatedly accusing Sri Lanka Navy of harassing Indian fishermen. At no instance has credible proof [been] provided regarding any Sri Lanka Navy involvement. However, on numerous occasions, Sri Lanka Navy has come to the rescue of Indian fishermen in distress and provided them with assistance using its vessels and personnel.”
In a statement, the Navy said on January 22 too, its Navy rescued nine fishermen onboard two trawlers, which had developed mechanical problems and were drifting in the seas north of Mannar. The two trawlers were towed to Thalaimannar Naval Base. The Navy will carry out repairs and send them back.
“During the recently held International Maritime Boundary Line meeting between the Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, Sri Lanka Navy had briefed the Indian authorities on the measures taken to humanely treat Indian fishermen found engaged in poaching in Sri Lankan waters. It was also mentioned that as all Sri Lanka Navy ships and craft display their pennant number, any incident reported with regard to harassment should be made with date, time, location and pennant number of the craft or ships,” the Navy said.
The Navy's denial lends credence to the fact that an armed group is operating in the region. Fishermen association leaders in Tamil Nadu are convinced that the injured fishermen were not inflicting wounds on themselves, or were faking injuries. The needle of suspicion points to the armed groups operating in the Northern Province, a reference to which has been made in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee Report, a document that suggested ways to peacefully resolve the ethnic conflict.