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SOURCE: PTI

Sri Lanka has voiced its concern to India over the death of a naval sailor who was killed in a recent operation to seize an Indian trawler allegedly engaged in illegal fishing in the island nation’s territorial waters.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Delhi Kshenuka Seneviratne has conveyed the message to External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, sources in the foreign ministry here said on Monday.

On June 25, off the coast of Point Pedro in the north, a senior sailor from the Navy Special Boat Squadron sustained critical injuries due to “the aggressive manoeuvres of the Indian trawler, resisting its seizure”, a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Navy said last week. “Unfortunately, the senior sailor succumbed to his injuries after being admitted to the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna,” it added.

The Navy said that 10 Indian fishermen were arrested and their trawler was seized. The 10 arrested fishermen have been charged with the murder of the sailor as well as causing damage to the Naval property. The hearing of the case is fixed for July 22 in Mallakum in Jaffna.

A post-mortem examination of the deceased sailor has determined that his death was an accident, resulting from spinal cord damage, the Sri Lanka Navy said last week. Meanwhile, 25 more Indian fishermen on board four trawlers were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of Monday off the Delft islet in the north, authorities said.

Last month, the Navy in a statement said it seized a total of 28 Indian poaching trawlers and 214 Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters in 2024 and subsequently handed them over to authorities for legal proceedings.

The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Sri Lankan territorial waters.

The Palk Strait, a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries. Fishermen from both countries are arrested frequently for inadvertently trespassing into each other’s waters.