New Delhi(PTI): Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickramasinghe has said that shootings of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy is not a matter of human rights violations since they ‘poached’ on Sri Lankan waters. He went on to justify the shootings saying, “…they (Sri Lankan Navy) have to shoot because they were poaching on Sri Lankan Waters.”
In an interview to Thanti TV the PM said speaking on the matter of Sri Lankan Navy shooting Indian fishermen that went on till 2011.
He was asked about allegations of Sri Lankan Navy shooting fishermen with around 600 Indians killed in the last many years, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister said there has been no such incident recently with the last one being in 2011. “Part of that earlier was during the time of (Lankan civil) war, they felt some of them actually were involved in supplying of arms,” Wickramasinghe said.
He further said that in some instances the Sri Lankan Navy fired at the fishermen as they were poaching on Sri Lankan waters. When pointed out that it was a serious human rights violation issue, he said, “Why are you coming into our waters? Why are you fishing in our waters…? Stay on the Indian side… There will be no issue…No one will shoot anyone else…You stay on the Indian side, Let our fishermen stay on the Sri Lankan side… Otherwise don’t make accusations of Human rights violation by the Navy. You came in there.”
The Sri Lankan PM also tried to justify the shootings saying that Indian fishermen were taking away livelihoods of Sri Lankan fishermen.
There have been several cases of arrest and abduction of Indian fishermen in the last month. Sri Lankan fishermen have been complaining that since the advent of new government, the number of Indian fishermen breaching the country’s waters for illegal fishing have been increasing.
As many as 86 Indian fishermen were arrested and their 10 fishing boats seized by the Sri Lanka Navy for allegedly poaching in the country’s waters last month.
PM Narendra Modi is set to visit Sri Lanka as part of his four nation tour that included Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives. According reports, PM has dropped his plans to visit Maldives after diplomatic fallout. However the Sri Lankan PM seemed upbeat about PM Modi’s visit. He said, ” It’s a goodwill one to restore the ties between the two countries.”
He said that the bilateral visit by an Indian PM after 28 years shows that countries are “re-establishing links, repairing the damage, getting ahead”. He also said that the PM was welcome to visit the northern Sri Lanka, home to majority of Sri Lankan Tamils.