Rao heads to Colombo Sunday over fishermen’s killings

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: In the wake of outrage in Tamil Nadu over the recent killing of two Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao dashes off to Colombo on a two-day visit Sunday to discuss the issue in detail and press the island state’s leadership to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

    The safety and welfare of Indian fishermen, who have allegedly been targeted by Sri Lankan Navy personnel, will be on top of the agenda, officials here said.

    Rao is expected to meet Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris and other senior officials to discuss the festering fishermen issue.

    India has made it clear that the attacks on Indian fishermen in the last two weeks happened within its territorial waters. This needs to be investigated thoroughly, said officials.

    The two sides are expected to announce a meeting of the joint working group on fisheries that was set up in 2006.

    Rao will convey India’s “strong and deep concerns” over the issue to the Sri Lankan leadership and stress that such incidents create repercussions in Tamil Nadu.

    Rao is being rushed on a priority basis in view of the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, likely in May. The issue of attacks on Tamil fishermen is an emotive one that may get played up in the elections.

    The Sri Lankan Navy has denied any involvement in the attacks on Indian fishermen. In a statement, it said that instead of attacking, it had on multiple occasions helped Indian fishermen and fishing boats that had strayed into Sri Lankan waters.