by Shamindra Ferdinando
Government sources said that a section of the Indian press was making a fresh attempt to discredit the Sri Lanka Navy at the behest of politicians sympathetic to the LTTE.
Sources said that this could be part of a campaign against Sri Lanka, now being targeted by several countries and a section of the press over alleged war crimes, human rights violations and suppression of media freedom.
An authoritative official told The Island yesterday that there was absolutely no truth in Indian press reports on Tuesday (September 22) that the SLN had killed at least 50 Indian fishermen in the last fortnight for crossing over into Sri Lankan waters. "This is nothing but a blatant lie," he said.
Referring to international criticism of the government, on the basis of the so-called Channel 4 execution video, the official expressed concern that some political parties in India had condemned the SLN even without verifying facts.
Responding to our queries, he said that the SLN continued with surveillance operations on the northern waters though the LTTE had been militarily destroyed. According to him, at the moment their surveillance operations were primarily directed at thwarting any attempt by LTTE cadres to flee the country and take refuge in South India. He revealed that the SLN had recently intercepted a boat carrying an LTTE operative to South India. According to him, the suspect had helped an LTTE suicide cadre to reach Colombo some time ago.
Sources said that the SLN would not allow poaching in Sri Lankan waters adding that the Indian media campaign could be also aimed at forcing the Sri Lanka Navy to ease surveillance operations. Sources emphasised the importance of blocking unauthorised movements across international maritime boundary.
Our Special Correspondent in India S. Venket Narayan on Tuesday reported that a delegation of DMK and Congress MPs had met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to protest against what they called ‘frequent attacks’ on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the SLN. They also demanded that action be taken to regain Kachchathivi island and the adjacent seas.
The SLN said that similar charges had been levelled against them at the height of the war against the LTTE. An attempt to pin the blame for the massacre of a group of Indian fishermen off Kanyakumari as well as the seizure of fishing trawler Sri Krishna, on the Sri Lanka Navy had failed, sources said. The capture of a group of LTTE cadres by Indians and sinking of Sri Krishna by the Maldivian Coast Guard had exposed the lie, sources said.