India on Tuesday said China has been showing "more than the normal interest" in the Indian Ocean affairs and its "intentions" are being closely monitored.
"The Government of India has come to realise that China has been showing more than the normal interest in the Indian Ocean affairs. So we are closely monitoring the Chinese intentions", External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in the Lok Sabha.
"We are closely monitoring the developments in the Indian Ocean," he said and assured the House that "appropriate action and measures" would be taken to safeguard India's territorial integrity and the welfare of its fishermen.
Though he did not elaborate on the growing Chinese interests but was clearly referring to increasing engagement of China in projects in Sri Lanka and other countries in the Indian Ocean.
The statement, in response to a Calling Attention Motion on recent attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, came amid concerns here over reports that China had deployed around 11,000 of its troops in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Jammu and Kashmir which is under Pakistani occupation.
Earlier, TR Baalu (DMK), while moving the Motion, said that when an Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was signed on Katchathivu Islands in 1974, the then External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh had said the rights of fishing and navigation have been safeguarded for future.
Under the agreement on Katchathivu island which falls in Sri Lankan territory, Indian fishermen can rest and dry their nets during fishing in international waters.
Baalu claimed that in 1976, things changed on the Indian fishermen's rights when secretaries of India and Sri Lanka exchanged two sets of letters. "The letters became part and parcel of the agreement without taking Parliament and the state government into confidence...it is a blow to the fishermen," he said.
The DMK member asked the Centre to revisit the agreement on Katchathivu island and increase patrolling in the waters to protect Indian fishermen from the onslaught of Sri lankan Navy.
Krishna, however, ruled out revisiting of the pact, saying "we cannot go back on the solemn agreement between two governments."
Sri Lanka is a friendly country, an aspect that is needed to be kept in mind, he said adding that Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was currently in Colombo, discussing such matters.
He said he was planning to travel to Colombo in October when issues related to fishermen would be discussed further.
Dissatisfied over Krishna's reply, AIADMK members led by M Thambidurai staged a walkout, while Baalu continued to raise several other questions even as the Speaker moved over to the Zero Hour.