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Lanka seeks humanitarian solution to fishing row

January 14, 2011 16:18 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa advocated a "humanitarian approach" to avoid clashes between fishermen from India and his country near the international maritime border (IMB).

"The fishermen will go where the fish is and they are not likely to respect international borders," Rajapaksa said when asked for his comment on the killing of an Indian fisherman. "We have to take a humanitarian approach," he said, adding that investigations by Sri Lankan Navy showed that there had been no shooting by his forces on Indian fishermen.

Earlier, Indian media reported that at least one fisherman from Tamil Nadu was killed on Wednesday night in an incident near Tamil Nadu waters. The media reports said the Sri Lankan Navy allegedly opened fire at the fishermen killing one and injuring another.

Rajapaksa said that the two countries had established a system to avoid clashes before Sri Lankan forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels and brought an end to gun running along the IMB. However, with the return of peace and Sri Lankan fishermen allowed to go out in the area, there had been many incidents of clashes between fishermen from the two nations.

Director of Naval Operations in Sri Lanka, Commodore Neil Rosayro told reporters at the President's official residence on Friday that their investigations showed that the Sri Lankan navy had not fired at the Indians as alleged. "There are several systems that the Indian navy and the coastguard has put in place, they will know instantly if we cross the International Maritime Border," Rosairo told reporters.

"They can confirm that we did not cross the IMB and there was no shooting by our boats," he said. India had summoned Sri Lankan High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam to lodge a strong protest over the killing of a fisherman by Lankan Navy, asserting that such incidents have no "justification" and calling on authorities there to "desist" from use of force.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has sought a detailed report from the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, who has taken up this matter with the Lankan government and expressed "deep concern and regret" over it.

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