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SL forces allegedly open fire on fishermen off India’s Kodiyakarai coast

Sri Lankan armed forces allegedly fired upon a group of Nagapattinam fishers when they were fishing near Kodiyakarai on Sunday evening (01), The New Indian Express reports.

E Kalaiselvan, a 33-year-old trawler boat driver from Akkaraipettai, is still shocked that he survived a bullet to his head. He was allegedly fired upon by Sri Lankan armed forces when he was fishing with his colleagues near Palk Strait on Sunday evening. Kalaiselvan is now at Nagapattinam Government General Hospital. V Visvanathan, the hospital dean, said, “The patient Kalaiselvan has suffered superficial flesh wounds on the left side of his head above his ear. We have cleaned and sutured his wounds. He is recuperating.”

Kalaiselvan’s colleagues, who were unharmed, brought him to the shore and admitted him to the hospital were equally stupefied. Kalaiselvan went fishing along with eight others from Akkaraipettai – K Deepanraj (32), S Jeeva (32), P Maran (55), K Arasamani (31), A Muruganantham (35), S Mohan (40), S Ramachandran (47), and S Thangaraj (30) and a Keechankuppam fisher named S Surenthar (32) on July 29.

On Sunday evening, they were allegedly trawling along with a few other boats about 40 nautical miles southeast of Kodiyakarai when the incident happened around 4 pm. E Kalaiselvan was allegedly at the helm and steering the boat when the Sri Lankan armed forces arrived at the scene.

Deepanraj, who witnessed the firing, said, “The Sri Lankans started to drive us off the scene and asked us not to cross into their waters. Then, they started to fire at our boats when we were about to leave. A bullet brushed aside our driver’s head and ricocheted inside the wheelhouse. We initially believed they would not fire at us. But, once our man got shot, the rest of us became startled and took cover down inside the wheelhouse. When we started to drive back home, the Sri Lankans asked us to halt. We begged them to let us go, crying that our man was injured. They let us go and started driving away other boats.”

The fishermen reached the shore around 2 am on Monday. They took the bleeding Kalaiselvan to the hospital and informed the authorities.

The Indian Coast Guard, the Coastal Security Group and the fisheries department began an investigation and inspected the boat in the morning. They found bullet marks left by a couple firing rounds on the wheelhouse, where the fishers took cover to save them. They also recovered a fired bullet from the wheelhouse. An official from the state fisheries department said, “We have confirmed the firing. It has been years since this has happened. We have warned our fishers not to cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).”

A case is being registered in Vedaranyam Marine Police Station. The firing on Akkaraipettai fishers left the fisherfolk community rattled.

Source: The New Indian Express