Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe still maintains that his country’s navy has the right to shoot anyone who intrudes into its territorial waters, remarks that have come close on the heels of what he calls a “successful” visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Sri Lanka Navy has the right to shoot in any part of the country at anyone who enters the bodies (waters), it’s nothing new,” he told.
Wickeramasinghe’s remarks assume significance in the context of the visit of Modi to Sri Lanka during the weekend when he had discussed the issue of Indian fishermen–a major irritant in bilateral ties–with President Mithripala Sirisena.
He said Modi’s visit to the country was “successful”. The two nations are trying to resolve the fishermen issue, he said. The Prime Minister reached out to Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankans also responded, he added.
During the visit, Modi had made clear that this complex question–of Indian fishermen–involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides.
“This complex issue involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides. We should handle it from this perspective. At the same time, we need to find a long term solution to this issue,” Modi had said.
Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit, Wickremasinghe had told a Tamil news channel, “If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed… Law allows me to do that,” drawing India’s ire.
“I don’t think your government or our government… but we have to stop bottom crawling and that’s the main issue,” the Lankan Premier said now.
The main issue, Wickremasinghe said, was bottom trawling and it has to stop. “That has been acknowledged by all sides,” he said.
India had also raked up the issue of the Premier’s remarks during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Colombo nine days ago.