New Delhi, March 9: India on Monday criticised Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for justifying the firing on fishermen from India and sought a “permanent solution” to the dragging row.
Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament that she was in Colombo when Wickremesinghe made the controversial remarks, days ahead of Indian Prime Minister rendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka.
“He said two things... one, that the Tamil fishermen released by the (Sri Lankan) president, he compared them with Italian marines (who shot dead two Indian fishermen). And the second, he justified the killing of Indian fishermen,” she said.
“My meeting with Wickremesinghe was already fixed, so I raised these two issues strongly with him. “I told him the two cases you have compared are incomparable. I told them the Indian fishermen released went through the whole legal procedure. They were tried, they were punished. “As far as the Italian marines (are) concerned, they are not allowing the legal process... He said (he) did not know these facts.” Sushma Swaraj added: “I said if we justify firing, we will keep firing on each other.” The exterl affairs minister said she reminded the Sri Lankan leaders that the Indian Coast Guard had a few days back arrested 19 Sri Lankan fishermen. “But we gave orders to release them.” Sushma Swaraj said India wants a “permanent solution” to the dragging dispute involving fishermen from both countries who often enter the waters of each other’s country in search of marine life. Indian fishermen find the Sri Lankan waters attractive as the marine life there is rich because of the long years of ban on fishing on account of the armed ethnic conflict that ended only in 2009. When Wickremesinghe suggested deep sea fishing so that Indians remained within Indian waters, Sushma Swaraj sought “an interim arrangement” until that happened. (IANS)