CHENNAI: Tensions in the Palk Strait, that have been on the rise in recent days, was brought to a boil after a young fisherman from Ramanathapuram, was shot dead, allegedly by Sri Lankan navy personnel, on Monday night.
Britjo Hemeles (21) sustained fatal injuries to his neck that killed him before the others could bring him to shore. Another fisherman who was on the boat, Jeron Dhasan, suffered injuries to his hand, and is now undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Ramanathapuram.
This triggered sharp reactions from Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami, and all political parties, who attacked the Centre for not taking up the matter with the Sri Lankan government with sufficient seriousness. But the Ministry of External Affairs said in Delhi that the Indian High Commissioner has taken up the matter with the Lankan Prime Minister and expressed India’s deep concern.
However, Lanka said its navy personnel were not involved in the incident as is being alleged. “Irrespective of the parties involved, if in fact a shooting has taken place, it is a matter of grave concern, and all possible action will be taken, in cooperation with the relevant Indian authorities, to investigate into this incident, utilising GPS technology as well,” the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry said in its statement.
Notwithstanding the denial, the Coastal Security Wing of the State Police filed a case against Lankan navy personnel for the killing.
The issue may escalate further, as Britjo’s relatives neither agreed to collect his body, nor accepted the `5 lakh solatium announced by the State government. Britjo is the 128th fisherman from the State to be killed in the narrow straits since 1991.