Around 20 fishermen from Tamil Nadu were injured when they were allegedly attacked by Sri Lankan Navy personnel in mid-sea off nearby Dhanushkodi, fisheries officials said on Tuesday.
The Sri Lankan Navy men surrounded the boats of the fishermen, opened fire in air and then allegedly pelted stones at them around midnight on Monday, they said. While officials said the fishermen were fishing inside Sri Lankan waters, the latter maintained they were fishing on the maritime border area.
One of the fisherman suffered serious head injuries while the others concussion and bruises, the officials said. Assistant Dirctor of Fisheries Mohan said the fishermen had used a particular fishing net banned by Sri Lankan government and that could also be the reason for the attack. He cautioned the fisherman against carrying such banned nets. He said initial enquiry revealed that five fishermen were stripped off their 'lungis' and thrown into sea.
The Lankan Navy men also threw the fish catch and the fishing net into the sea after the attack. Stating that the incident would be taken up with the island nation through the Centre, Fisheries officials said Indian marine personnel police never resorted to such "third degree" attacks on Sri Lankan fishermen whenever they strayed into Indian waters.
An official said the Sri Lankan Navy could arrest those who had crossed the maritime border as was done by the Indian Navy, instead of attacking them. Attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy personnel had been a major issue in the region with several such incidents being reported on a regular basis.
The Centre had been warning the fishermen not to cross into Sri Lankan territory. Talks had been held even at the level of fishermen associations of Rameswaram region and their Sri Lankan counterparts in the past for peaceful fishing in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait.