Indian Coast Guard says fishermen ‘sensationalizing’ attacks by Sri Lankan Navy

Nov 16, Madurai: While suggesting to establish a ‘no fishing zone’ along the Indo-Sri Lanka International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) to prevent skirmishes with Sri Lankan Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has said that the fishermen had sensationalized alleged incidents, instead of seeking help from ICG or the Indian Navy.

In a counter-affidavit in the Madurai bench of Madras High Court Inspector General of ICG (Deputy Director General, Operations and Coastal Security) V.S.R. Murthy has suggested the ‘no fishing zone’ along the IMBL similar to the zone established by the state of Gujarat along five nautical miles on the Indo-Pakistan IMBL.

The official has suggested strict punitive measures for violators of the ‘no fishing zone’ to avoid illegal cross border fishing, PTI reported.

The ICG official has said that during enhanced patrolling by ICG, Sri Lankan Navy had reported numerous instances of a large number of Indian fishermen operating in Sri Lanka’s waters and submitted statistics to show the intrusions.

He has said the ICG is investigating the alleged attacks on the Indian fishermen reported to ICG by the Tamil Nadu authorities. He alleged that fishermen had sensationalized alleged incidents, instead of seeking help from ICG or navy.

He has told the court that Sri Lankan newspapers had carried news of Indian fishermen destroying their fishing nets, resulting in retaliatory attacks by Lankan fishermen.

He has said that no Sri Lankan naval vessel had intruded into Indian territory as it would amount to contravene the legal treaties of years 1974 and 1976.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jeyalalithaa has written again to the Indian Prime Minister, for the fifth time, to take action to control the ‘rogue elements’ of the Sri Lankan Navy who attack the Indian fishermen.

The ICG official has also warned that Indian fishermen crossing the IMBL may be potential target for non-state actors towards anti-national activities as they could use Indian fishing vessels to carry out serial blasts, as in Mumbai.

The court has directed the Coast Guard to provide security to fishermen to fish in Indian territory without prejudice to the Kachchatheevu agreement.

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