Killing of Indian fishermen unacceptable, says Pranab

Chennai: Another Indian fisherman has allegedly been killed by the Sri Lankan navy while fishing off Kodiakarai coast yesterday. This makes it the second fisherman to have died in the past ten days.

External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, has strongly condemned the violent killing of the Indian fisherman.

Sri Lanka has rejected as "baseless" the allegation that its military was involved in the killing of an Indian fisherman.

These "allegations are baseless and without proof," Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Captain Athula Senarth said. Speaking to NDTV, Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam too denied the allegations but said they will help in the investigations.

28-year-old, Jeyakumar, still traumatised by his experiences during the tsunami of 2004 was unable to move when the Lankan navy took over their fishing boat and ordered him and his two colleagues to jump into the sea.

So they tied a rope round his neck, pushed him into the water and dragged him along until he died. 

And that's how he was found by his two surviving colleagues, with a rope round his neck.

More than two hundred Indian fishermen have fallen to Lankan bullets in the last three decades. This is perhaps the first time a gruesome attack of this kind has been reported.

"We can't go into the sea. Let all fishermen in hundreds of villages go towards Sri Lanka. Let them kill all of us. We need a solution," said Kadirvel, Jeyakumar's relative. 

In Nagapattinam fishermen protested with the victim's body, demanding action against Sri Lanka.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, urged the Centre to take up the matter with Colombo and punish the guilty. (Read: Lankan fisherman killing: Karunanidhi urges Centre to intervene)

The External Affairs Minister condemned the killing and his ministry said that the government had told Sri Lanka that it must investigate what happened and ensure such incidents did not happen again.

"We are helping Sri Lanka. There can be no justification for this. Even if Indian fishermen did anything wrong, there are ways of resolving it," said Pranab Mukherjee.

India's gifting of the Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka has drastically reduced Indian fishing space. While many inadvertently stray into Lankan waters, many deliberately trespass for more fish.

Fishing communities account for around 75 seats, with elections just a few months away in Tamil Nadu the continuing attacks have only strengthened the demand to reclaim Katchatheevu.