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Firing at Indian fishermen cannot be justified: FM

Chennai: With Sri Lankan Navy allegedly killing two Tamil Nadu fishermen in the last ten days, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said the shootings cannot be justified.

"There is no point and justification in shooting them," he told reporters after meeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi at his residence here to discuss the issue.

"Naturally the Chief Minister is worried," Mukherjee, accompanied by DMK MP T R Baalu and TNCC President K V Thangkabalu said.

Urging the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing at the Indian fishermen, he said if they had done something wrong (like crossing International Maritime Boundary Line), they should have been apprehended.

"I am told that in the last 10 days two fishermen (from Tamil Nadu) have been killed. We have good relations with Sri Lanka and are helping them," he said.

He said he had assured Karunanidhi that he would take up the matter with the foreign ministry, which in turn would raise it with Lankan authorities to ensure such incidents did not recur.

In a fresh incident of attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Straits, one person was killed on January 22 when Sri Lankan Navy allegedly tied a fisherman by a rope and threw him into the sea. Another one was killed on January 12 when the Lankan Navy opened fire at three fishermen, who put out to sea from Jagadapattinnam near Pudukottai.

India had reacted strongly to killing of Indian fishermen in firing by the Sri Lankan Navy on January 12, saying such incidents have no "justification" and called on authorities in the island nation to "desist" from use of force.

Tamil Nadu fishermen have complained of frequent attacks by the island republic`s navy, prompting DMK, an UPA coalition partner and other political parties in the state to demand an end to such attacks by taking up the issue strongly with Sri Lanka.

Mukherjee is here on a one-day visit to attend some official functions.

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