No warship sale to Lanka; only patrol vehicles, Centre to HC

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Srilanka
Madurai, Jan 21: The Centre has asserted in the Madras High Court Bench here that the Sri Lankan Navy did not kill even a single Indian fishermen in Indian waters since 2011 and denied having any proposal to sell warships to it.

"Only Offshore Patrol Vehicles (OPVs) would be sold," the Central government said in a counter affidavit to a petition which sought a court direction to stay sale of warships to Sri Lanka. Deputy Secretary (Sri Lanka) Mayank Joshi, who filed the counter on behalf of the External Affairs and Defence ministries, said India's prestige would go up with the selling of the OPVs.

Petitioner Stalin, an advocate, had submitted that the warships could be used by the Sri Lankan Navy to attack fishermen, who were repeatedly fired at in mid-sea. Joshi said the ICG ships on patrol duty had not come across any incidents of Indian fishermen being fired upon while fishing in Indian waters.

The Sri Lankan Navy had also said it never entered Indian waters and had assured that they have been adhering to a "No firing" policy on Indian fishermen. The affidavit, filed yesterday, said the Indian government had reached a mutual understanding with the Sri Lankan Navy.

Sri Lankan Navy says they have been adhering to "No firing' policy.

Hence the island navy would not open fire at Indian fishing vessels and the country's fishermen would not venture into sensitive areas. The Indian Navy and Coastguard were patrolling the IMBL regularly for the safety of Indian fishermen.

"No death of Indian fishermen has been reported after April 2011," it said. The fear of the petitioner that the ships would be used to kill Indian fishermen was baseless. The OPV is only 105.7 metre in length with a cruising speed of 12-14 knots and was not a warship, it submitted. Justice R Sudhakar and Justice VS Velumani posted the case for tomorrow for hearing.

PTI

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