Concern in Parliament Over Lankan PM’s Remarks on Indian Fishermen

fishermenMembers in Parliament today voiced concern over remarks of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe that his country’s navy has the right to shoot any “intruder”, prompting the government to express willingness for a debate on the issue.

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and AIADMK leader M Thambidurai drew attention of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to the statement of Wickramsinghe as soon as she made a statement in the House on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Sri Lanka, Seychelles and Mauritius.

Thambidurai said the Sri Lankan Prime Minister has repeated his ‘right to shoot’ remarks after the visit of Modi to the island nation.

The Sri Lankan leader had made a similar statement before Modi’s visit also, saying if Indian fishermen intrude into his country’s territorial waters, its fishermen have the right to shoot.

Urging the government to take the matter “seriously”, he demanded a discussion on his remarks under Rule 193 (short duration discussion) which does not entail voting.

Several Congress and other members also rose to their feet to support AIADMK.

Swaraj said Modi discussed problems faced by fishermen with the Sri Lankan leadership and pointed out that this is a complex issue involving livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both side.

The government is ready for a discussion on the statement of the Sri Lankan PM, she said.

Swaraj made her statement regarding Modi’s visit in Hindi. But when she referred to the Sri Lankan leg of the tour, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told her to speak that part in English for the benefit of people living in South India and Swaraj obliged.

In Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by Rajiv Shukla (Cong) who said Wickramasinghe has again made a provocative statement despite assurances by the External Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister’s visit to the country.

“The External Affairs Minister has misled the House…The External Affairs Minister has assured the House and the Prime Minister visited Sri Lanka. Despite that the Sri Lankan Prime Minister has given a statement of shoot at saight orders on Indian fishermen,” Shukla said.

Government responded to this saying Swaraj will be making a statement on the issue in the House.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the issue was listed in the business of the House and the Congress member can raise his concerns during clarifications on the Minister’s statement.(OutLook)

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