India denies violation of 'diplomatic norms'

COLOMBO, MAY 20. The Sri Lankan press today described as violation of ``diplomatic norms'' the recent meeting between an Indian High Commission official and a Jaffna magistrate in connection with the welfare of arrested Indian fishermen, a charge denied by the High Commission.

However, the Indian officials took exception to the description, saying there was nothing wrong with the meeting the Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. S. Tripathy, accompanied by the Defence Adviser, Capt. Gopinath, had with the Jaffna magistrate, Mr. R.T. Vignaraja, to request better facilities for 39 Indian fishermen detained in a prison here.

The diplomat had ``broken diplomatic norms,'' the Sunday Times newspaper said, adding it was ``not correct'' for the Indian official to visit the magistrate while a case was pending before him.

Reacting to the insinuation, the Indian High Commission said ``there was nothing wrong in the two-day consular visit on May 15 and 16 to ascertain the circumstances of the fishermen's arrest and enquire about their well-being.''

``It is our duty. Moreover, the two officials met all the relevant authorities during their visit to Jaffna, and not the magistrate alone,'' High Commission sources said. They also met the fishermen in prison and inspected their eight fishing vessels, moored at Kayts in the Jaffna peninsula after seizure by the Sri Lankan navy, they said.