Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s strong comments concerning the fishermen issue has caused a stir in the Indian political sphere, just days ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka.
During an interview with a Tamil TV channel last evening, the Prime Minister had made very strong comments regarding the contentious fishermen issue that has ruffled the Indian government feathers, particularly since he had justified the shooting of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka Navy.
“The Sri Lankan navy is only acting as per law when it fires at Indian fishermen entering Lankan waters and therefore they should keep away,” the PM had told Thanthi TV broadcast last evening. He has made these controversial comments while talks are ongoing between the fishermen groups from both sides.
Speaking furthermore, PM Wickremesinghe had stated that the law allows one to shoot a trespasser while claiming that due to the poaching by Indian fishermen, local fishermen’s livelihoods are disrupted.
“If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed, law allows me to do that . . . This is our waters. Fishermen of Jaffna should be allowed to fish. We stopped them from fishing. That’s why the Indian fishermen came in. They (Jaffna fishermen) are willing to have a deal. Let’s have a reasonable settlement but not at the cost of the livelihood of northern fishermen,” he had said and adding insult to injury, he had gone on to state that he does not perceive the shooting of fishermen as amounting to human rights violations.
These comments have sparked uproar amongst Indian politicians who have strongly criticized the PM’s statements. Congress leader Manish Tewari today criticized the BJP, as he questioned whether the Indian diplomacy has stooped to such a level that Sri Lanka is threatening to shoot fishermen who inadvertently crossed the international boundary.
Meanwhile, India has stated that it would take up the PM’s comments this evening during talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart Mangala Samaraweera today.
Watch English interview after 30 seconds;