Fishermen killings: Rao to convey India's concerns to Sri Lanka

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New Delhi, Jan.28 (ANI): Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will visit Colombo on Sunday to convey New Delhi's concern over the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Sri Lanka Navy personnel in the last fortnight.

The deaths of the fishermen have created a political furor in poll-bound Tamil Nadu.

In Colombo, Rao will call on Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and other senior officials. According to sources, she will ask the Sri Lankan officials to consider reconvening the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to deal with the issue. The JWG last met in 2006.

The Sri Lankan Navy has rejected reports of its involvement in the incident, but India is insisting on a thorough probe in the matter.

Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapaksa has reportedly ordered an enquiry and urged the concerned authorities to form a mechanism to deal with the issue.

Statistics suggests a different story and the recent killing has taken Indian authorities by surprise.

"If there were 1464 arrests of Indian fishermen by Lanka in 2008, it came down to 127 in 2009 and was further reduced to 34 in 2010," a source said.

The entry of Indian fishermen into Lankan waters has always remained a thorny issue. In fact, in the post-conflict scenario, when fishing in Tamil-dominated Jaffna is on the revival path, the fishing community of Northern Sri Lanka has voicedconcern over Indian fishermen entering Lankan waters.

The killing of Indian fishermen has led Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo M.Karunanidhi to write to the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on January 12, demanding stern action against the culprits involved in the killing of one of the Indian fishermen, a person identified as Veerapandian.

The leader of the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J.Jayalalithaa, has also criticized the Central Government for its inaction on the issue.

She described Prime Minister Singh as weak and ineffective in handling the issue of the continued attacks on fishermen.

A fisherman was killed and two others were injured while fishing off the Kodiakarai Coast on January 22. The man, who had put out to sea with two others from the 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.

On January 12, an Indian fisherman was killed in the Palk Straits when Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly opened fire on three fishermen, who went out to sea from Jagadapattinnam near Pudukottai. (ANI)

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