India on Sunday strongly and unequivocally condemned the killing of another fisherman allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy, saying that use of force must be “eschewed” in all such situations even as Colombo rejected as “baseless” the charge that its personnel were involved.

“We have received reports of the tragic killing of another Indian fisherman allegedly due to use of force by Sri Lankan Navy personnel. The External Affairs Minister has expressed Government’s strong and unequivocal condemnation of this violent incident and conveyed his deep sympathies to the family of the deceased,” a Ministry statement said.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has taken the matter “very seriously”, saying it is “unacceptable” and has sought a report from the Indian mission in Colombo, sources said.

The Minister’s office has also asked the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department to provide the details regarding the fisherman and the incident.

A fisherman was killed and two others were injured while fishing off Kodiakarai coast on Saturday. The man, who had put out to sea with two others from Pushpavanam coastal hamlet, died after Sri Lankan Naval personnel allegedly tied a rope around his neck and pushed him into the water, fisheries department sources said.

This is the second incident of the kind in less than a fortnight.

On January 12, an Indian fisherman was killed in Palk Straits when Lankan Navy allegedly opened fire at three fishermen, who put out to sea from Jagadapattinnam near Pudukottai.

The Ministry said, “On receiving the news, government immediately raised the matter with the Sri Lankan government both in New Delhi and in Colombo.”

“The Sri Lankan government was requested to seriously investigate this incident and ensure that it does not recur.

“We have stressed that use of force must be eschewed in all such situations and have reiterated that the welfare and the safety of our fishermen in the waters between India and Sri Lanka will continue to receive very high priority by Government. The October 2008 Understanding reached between the two governments must be scrupulously adhered to in letter and spirit,” the statement said.

These “allegations are baseless and without proof,” Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Captain Athula Senarth said.

“We have given strict instructions to our naval patrols and we ensure that these instructions are carried out,” Senarth said in Colombo.

According to sources, Mr. Krishna is expected to take up the matter with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris. But since he is travelling within the U.S., he could not be contacted, they said.

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