Indian fishermen furious over “massacre at mid sea” by Sri Lankan Navy

By Siva Parameswaran

All four bodies of Tamil Nadu fishermen have been recovered from the ocean after their trawler was allegedly rammed and sunk by the Sri Lankan Navy on Monday night.

The four deceased include a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee, who went missing since the trawler 'Sinnaiyah' was drowned off the Sri Lankan islet of Neduntivu (Delft) on the January 18, infuriating TN fishermen.

“We have recovered four bodies and the vessel,” Navy Spokesman Captain Indika de Silva told journalists in Colombo.

The bodies were brought to Sri Lanka for autopsy before handing over to Indian authorities, he said.

“This is nothing else but massacre in mid sea,” said Rameshwaran fishermen leader Bencinglas Jesuraja.

Fishermen have lodged formal complaints to the coastal police and the Tamil Nadu director of fisheries.

Pictures released by SLN shows an apparent dent at deck level in the port side of one of their fast attack crafts.

SLN claims 'baseless'

A claim by SLN, “one of the Indian fishing trawlers with aggressive manoeuvres resisting the arrest was on an attempt to evade from the scene making it collided with SLN Craft in operation and ultimately sank at sea having lost its stability” is categorically refuted by the Indian fishermen.

Rameswaram area fishermen leader Bencinglas Jesuraja told JDS by phone the claim of the SL Navy is baseless.

“How can a 40 feet long wooden trawler with just 120 HP engine damage a sturdy steel naval ship? Such intimidating activities are regularly being carried out by the SL Navy endangering our lives and property.”

A fisherman speaking under conditions of anonymity said, “We got a walkie-talkie message from the trawler, which was sunk, seeking help as it was being attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy, but as we tried to reach the area in our boats we were threatened and chased by three Navy crafts.”

According to Jesuraja the ‘Ice Box’ was found floating which proves the boat bearing registration number INDTN10MM 0646 has sunk. The four fishermen Mesia Antonyraj, Sam Nesaperumal, Nagaraj Vellaisamy and Senthilkumar Selvam were missing until two bodies were found on Wednesday evening.

Sam Nesaperumal is a long-term resident from the Mandapam Sri Lankan refugee camp.

Tamil Nadu fishermen have urged a search by a helicopter and the Coast guard.

Sri Lankan Navy say relevant Indian authorities have also been informed of the development and an investigation into the incident is underway.

The Indian Coast Guard is yet to respond.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.