Fishermen sitting at a demonstration site during a protest against the killing of four fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, in Rameswaram on Thursday (ANI Photo)
Fishermen sitting at a demonstration site during a protest against the killing of four fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, in Rameswaram on Thursday (ANI Photo)

India lodges protest after fishermen die in crash with Sri Lankan naval craft

  • India expressed “deep anguish at the loss of lives” and emphasised the need to deal with issues related to fishermen in a humanitarian manner.
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 10:50 PM IST

India on Thursday lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka over the death of three fishermen from Tamil Nadu in a collision between their vessel and a Lankan naval craft, saying Colombo should take steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

Four fishermen from Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu had been reported missing on January 19. They were out fishing in a mechanised boat along with many other vessels from the same area. The Sri Lankan Navy initially said an Indian boat, with four fishermen on board, sank when patrol vessels sought to apprehend it with other fishing boats that were allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

“We are shocked at the unfortunate loss of lives of three Indian fishermen and one Sri Lankan national following a collision between their vessel and a Sri Lankan naval craft,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

“Our strong protest in regard to this incident was conveyed by our high commissioner to the Sri Lankan foreign minister (on Thursday). A strong demarche was also made to the Sri Lankan acting high commissioner in New Delhi,” it said.

The Indian side expressed “deep anguish at the loss of lives” and emphasised the need to deal with issues related to fishermen in a humanitarian manner, the statement said.

“Existing understandings between the two governments in that regard must be strictly observed. Utmost efforts should be made to ensure that there is no recurrence,” it said.

According to media reports, the bodies of the four fishermen were recovered in the Palk Strait by the Sri Lankan navy.

The issue triggered protests by fishermen in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. Tamil Nadu chief minister EK Palaniswami announced compensation of 10 lakh each for the families of the fishermen and accused the Sri Lankan navy of destroying the livelihood of fishermen from the state.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar had raised the issues of Indian fishermen during a visit to Sri Lanka this month. The bilateral joint working group on fisheries recently discussed outstanding issues were discussed, and Jaishankar said the Indian side was looking forward to the “early return” of fishermen detained in Sri Lanka.

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