Attack on Indian fishermen: Lanka refuses to learn

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New Delhi, March 8: The attack on four fishermen from Karaikal by Sri Lankan Coast Guard personnel while fishing off Kodiakarai coast comes at a time when India is caught in a bind on the voting on the upcoming UN rights panel resolution on Sri Lanka.

Five Karaikal-based fishermen had ventured into the sea on March 2 in a fibre glass boat and were fishing off Kodiakarai last night when Lankan Coast Guard personnel surrounded them and boarded their vessel.

They allegedly threw chilli powder and ice cubes besides attacking them with wooden logs and fled, he said. One fisherman managed to escape unhurt as he hid near the boat's engines.

The injured fishermen returned to shore today and have been admitted to the Karaikal General Hospital, he said.
The attack comes a day after a 40-year-old fishermen was wounded in the shoulder after Lankan navy personnel allegedly fired at their fishing boats.

Taking a serious view of the attack and firing on fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa yesterday in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that these incidents should be viewed as an "indirect attempt to intimidate India and browbeat it into not raising its voice" against Sri Lanka on the Tamil issue at the international fora, which is highly unacceptable.

Meanwhile, describing the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka as a "huge humanitarian problem" which has to end, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday that India will ask the island nation's government for an independent inquiry into allegations of human rights violations there.

The government is in a fix on which way vote on the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka. It has become more complex after the US circulated draft recommends an "independent international investigation."

The Indian government sources have been indicating that they were going to vote along with the US so far, the "independent international investigation" may make it difficult for India to vote on it, as it goes against the Indian principles of non-interference.

Khurshid had said yesterday that "a closure must be brought to the 27 years of violence and India does not want to play policeman or big brother".

"I know there are reports of human rights violations. The bottom line remains that devolution (of power) which gives legitimate rights must be implemented in toto," he asserted in the Lok Sabha while replying to a debate on the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

"This is a huge humanitarian problem. This involves both the heart and the head. Our generation has to find a solution to this problem. This has gone on for too long," Khurshid had said adding: "This has to end. It is clear that we want all citizens, particularly Tamils, to live as participants in a democracy."

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