Wickramesinghe’s interview ticks off India as Modi prepares to visit Lanka next week
GN Bureau | March 7, 2015
Few weeks after Sri Lankan president’s visit to India and ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lanka, Ranil Wickramesinghe, Lankan prime minister has dropped a bombshell that is going to stir up issues especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
READ: Tamil Nadu criticises Lankan PM remarks
Indian fishermen venture into Lankan waters as there is a depletion of fisheries on the Indian side. Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu are also guilty of using bottom trawlers that has led to depletion on our side. India and Lanka have signed numerous agreements on fishing rights but few measures have remained on paper.
“If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed...Law allows me to do that... On the fishermen issue, As far as I'm concerned, I have very very strong lines. These are our waters...Fishermen of Jaffna should be allowed to fish. We stopped them from fishing, which is why the Indian fishermen came in. They are willing to have a deal...Let's have a reasonable deal...," the Lankan prime minister said in an interview to Thanthi TV, a Chennai based news channel.
"Sri Lankan Navy is only acting as per law when it fires at Indian fishermen entering Lankan waters and therefore they should keep away," Wickramesinghe said. He feels that shooting of fishermen does not amount to human rights violations even while conceding that there have been instances of the Lankan Navy shooting innocent fishermen.
“There also have been instances of the Sri Lankan Navy shooting innocent fishermen. We have not said no to it. In some instance they have to shoot because they were poaching on Sri Lankan Waters. 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," he said.
"You be on to that side, we be on that side. Why do you all pick up the Italian sailors...? You say you are friendly with Italy, show that same magnanimity to Italy that you want us to show. If you want us to show that magnanimity to your fishermen, India should show the same magnanimity to Italian sailors," he added.
Lankan prime minister’s provocative statements are alarming at a time when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is visiting that country to strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Swaraj on Friday called on Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on the first day of her trip to set the stage for Modi's visit to the country, the first bilateral tour by an Indian premier in over 25 years.
PM Modi's visit from March 13-14 will be the first bilateral trip by an Indian prime minister since Rajiv Gandhi visited the island in 1987 to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord.
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