Just a few days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi flies to Sri Lanka, the country's Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe said that Indian fishermen will be shot if they venture into Lankan waters. Wikramesinghe made the comments during an interview to a Tamil channel.
"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," The Times of India quotes him as saying to Thanthi TV in an interview that was broadcast on Friday.
Zee News reports him as saying, "It's an issue between Tamil Nadu fishermen and Sri Lankan fishermen... They have got to sit down and we have to work this out. There can be no bottom trawling. There can be no solution that permits the Indian fishermen to do bottom trawling. These are basically Sri Lanka waters... What would you have done if all our fishermen went into the Indian waters and started fishing there...? Now what you are claiming is, we want to come there, we want to fish in your water and we want to bottom trawl in your waters."
Wikramesinghe's comments puts the Sri Lankan government in a spot even as they try to cement favourable diplomatic relations with India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will tour Sri Lanka next week.
Yesterday, Sushma Swaraj had called on Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena here on the first day of her trip to set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country, the first bilateral tour by an Indian premier in over 25 years.
During the meeting, Sirisena said that Sri Lanka was preparing for Modi's visit next week. He assured Swaraj that his government is committed to strengthening ties with India. Sirisena also told Swaraj that his country was in the process of taking along all communities.
Recalling the strong support India has extended to Lanka over the years, Sirisena said he was looking forward to similar support in international arena too. Swaraj, who arrived here on a two-day trip, was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P Perera at the airport.
Modi's visit from March 13-14 will be the first bilateral trip by an Indian prime minister since Rajiv Gandhi visited the island in 1987 to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord.
Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to travel to war-ravaged Jaffna in Tamil-dominated Northern Province and Trincomalee in the Eastern Province. He will address the Sri Lanka Parliament and is scheduled to travel to Anuradhapura and Kandy.
Modi's visit will be a return visit after Sirisena's visit to New Delhi last month that saw the two countries sign a civil nuclear pact.
India-Sri Lanka relations had seen tensions during last few years of the rule of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was voted out of power, as China had expanded its footprint in the country by building ports, highways and participating in other infrastructure projects.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Mar 07, 2015 14:35:17 IST