India lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka on Thursday over the killing of a Tamil Nadu fisherman, reportedly in firing by its navy on Wednesday.
The fisherman and two others had strayed into Lankan waters while fishing in the Palk Straits.
The government summoned Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam to the ministry of external affairs and sought an explanation for the killing. Kariyawasam, however, denied the Lankan navy's involvement in the incident but said Colombo would conduct an inquiry. External affairs minister SM Krishna sought a report on the killing from the Indian high commissioner in Colombo.
The diplomatic pressure saw the matter being referred to Lankan defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan naval chief's office for further clarity. Lankan external affairs minister GL Peiris held a meeting with foreign secretary Romesh Jayasinghe on the incident.
India and Sri Lanka had reached an understanding in 2008 under which it was decided "there will be no firing on Indian fishing vessels".
The Centre swung into action after Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi sent a telegram to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention to stop Sri Lanka from firing at fishermen from the state.
A state fisheries department official, who did not want to be named, said Lankan personnel had killed nearly 140 fishermen from the state in the past 15 years.
The fisherman's death has turned into a high-decibel political issue in Tamil Nadu, which is headed for elections this year.
AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has blamed government inaction for the killing and said the issue of Lankan naval personnel targeting fishermen from the state should have been taken up with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajkapasa when he came calling last year.
The state government has announced an ex-gratia assistance of Rs5 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased fisherman, Pandian.