Lanka denies presence of Naval vessels at ''killing sites''

Colombo, Jan 24 (PTI) The government today denied thatthe Sri Lankan Navy had been present at two locations where itwas accused of killing two Indian fishermen, as it sought moreinformation to carry out further investigations into the row.

Sri Lanka''s External Affairs Ministry said its navyhad not been present at the two locations where it was accusedof killing two Indian fishermen on two separate occasions thismonth.

"There were no Sri Lanka Navy vessels in the vicinityof the locations, where the incidents are alleged to haveoccurred," the Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Indian media reported that a man, who had putout to sea with two others on Saturday from Pushpavanamcoastal hamlet, died after Sri Lankan Naval personnel tied arope around his neck and pushed him into the water.

A similar allegation was levelled at the Sri Lankannavy early this month after another fisherman was killed inmid sea.

For this purpose, the Government of Sri Lanka hasrequested from the Indian authorities through diplomaticchannels the fullest possible information.

The Ministry wishes to emphasise that as and when thisinformation is made available, further investigations based onthe additional data that may be provided, would be conducted.

It said it is the consistent policy of Sri Lanka totreat in a humanitarian manner all fishermen, including thosefrom the Indian fishing community, who cross into Sri Lankanwaters.

"In keeping with this policy, the Sri Lanka Navy haswithin the last 12 months afforded assistance to 32 Indianfishermen and 10 Indian fishing vessels," it said.

As soon as reports of the alleged incidents began toappear, the Sri Lanka Navy was instructed to carry out its owninquiry.

The government is accordingly most anxious toascertain the facts behind the alleged incidents, so that anyperpetrators are brought to account.

Earlier, strongly reacting to the killing of a secondIndian fisherman in less than a fortnight allegedly by theLankan Navy, New Delhi termed it as "unacceptable" and soughta report in the matter from its mission in Colombo.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in New Delhi hadtaken the matter "very seriously", saying it was"unacceptable", sources said.

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