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India, Pakistan trade charges

India summoned the Pakistani deputy high commissioner in New Delhi to protest the killing of the fisherman, Shantilal Mangal

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 02:33 IST

India on Thursday accused Pakistan of killing an Indian fisherman in the disputed Sir Creek area off the Gujarat coast on Monday, even as Pakistan alleged that an Indian maritime aircraft had violated its airspace in the incident.

India summoned the Pakistani deputy high commissioner in New Delhi to protest the killing of the fisherman, Shantilal Mangal, 21, in firing by a Pakistani patrol vessel.

"The deputy high commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi was summoned on Thursday to the (external affairs) ministry and a protest lodged against the killing of the unarmed fisherman," ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters.

"The matter is also being taken up by the Indian high commission in Islamabad with the Pakistan foreign office," Sarna said.

Giving details, he said in the early hours of Feb 13, the fisherman was killed in firing by a Pakistan Maritime Shipping Agency (PMSA) ship.

"The Indian fishing boat, Avani, was fishing along the notional maritime boundary in Indian waters west of Gujarat coast when it was fired upon. The rest of the crew returned with the body to Okha harbour," Sarna said.

The same day, PMSA ship Vehdat towed away three Indian fishing boats, Bhiva, Puspak and Shiv Mukti, along with the crew of about 25 members, which were fishing in Indian waters near the notional maritime boundary, he added.

"An Indian Coast Guard ship was able to rescue one other Indian fishing boat along with its crew and bring back another boat which had been set on fire. The government has demanded the immediate release of the fishermen and their boats," Sarna said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday lodged a protest through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for "the violation of Pakistani airspace and Exclusive Economic Zone by an Indian maritime aircraft and two Coast Guard crafts Feb 13," Online news agency reported.

A foreign office statement issued in Islamabad said the action by the Indian maritime aircraft was in contravention of the Pakistan-India Agreement on Advance Notice on Military Exercises, Manoeuvres and Troops Movement of April 16, 1991 as well as neighbourly relations and good seamanship practices.

The Indian Dornier maritime aircraft made a number of low-altitude passes over the PSMA vessel MSS Vehdat which was engaged in patrolling and apprehending or clearing Indian fishing boats involved in poaching well inside Pakistan's Exclusive Economic Zone at position 2329N, 6735E at 03.00 a.m. on Feb 13, said the statement.

A similar demarche about these violations was made by the Pakistan high commission with India's ministry of external affairs in New Delhi, it said.