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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 108

Indian prison guard kill Sri Lankan fishermen’s representative in Tamil Nadu

Chennai, 07 October, ( An Indian Prison Guard shot dead an unarmed Sri Lankan representative from a fishing society visiting the Tamil Nadu prison in Madurai, on Friday (October 05, 2007).

On Friday morning Warnakulasuriya Canicius Fernando, (44), a resident of Negombo, who was the representative of All Ceylon Fisher Peoples’ Trade Union for Migrant Fishermen in Sri Lanka, visited Madurai Central Prisons to meet the four (4) Sri Lankan fishermen serving a prison term for straying into Indian waters. They were to be released on October 8 and Fernando was visiting them to make arrangements for their return home.

He was shot and killed in the afternoon by a Prison guard, Devarajan, in front of the Madurai Central Prisons about 3.45 PM. According to a report Canicius Fernando was shot below the neck and died on admission to hospital. Prison authorities said that the Sri Lankan was shot because he had refused to stop when asked to do so by the guard.

P.M. Amza, Sri Lanka Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, told the Asian Tribune that the Government of Tamil Nadu had officially informed the Sri Lankan government that a Sri Lankan national, Canicius Fernando, had been shot by an outer security guard at the Madurai Central Prison on October 5 and later pronounced dead on admission to the government hospital in Madurai.

So far Muthuvel Karunanidi Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has not express regret over the unnecessary slaying of a Sri Lankan national by a Tamil Nadu prison guard.

Amza told “Asian Tribune” that President Rajapakse was notified of the death of Canicius Fernando and he has advised Amza to provide assistance to the family members of the deceased in going through the legal formalities and also to arrange the body of the deceased to be brought back to Sri Lanka.

He added that with the concurrence of the Government of Tamil Nadu, an officer of this Mission was immediately deputed to travel to Madurai, on the night of October 5, to meet and address this issue with the authorities concerned. The Officer is currently in Madurai and is in contact with the local authorities. In addition legal assistance has also been secured to protect the interests of the family of the deceased.

Amza also told that Hussein Bahila, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, contacted the Indian High Commission in Colombo to provide the required visas for the family members of the deceased to air-dash to Chennai to claim the body. Accordingly Indian High Commission in Colombo opened the consular section on Saturday and issued the visas and the family members are expected to arrive in Chennai today.

In the meantime Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai has already expressed the concern of the Sri Lankan authorities regarding the tragic fate of Fernando. It has been brought to the attention of the Government of the State of Tamil Nadu through diplomatic channels.

According to Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commission, Fernando, was in Chennai on behalf of the owner of a Sri Lanka fishing vessel ‘Devudu Prasamsa’ which was apprehended by the Indian authorities on 13.06.2007 at Thoothukudi. The four (4) Sri Lankan fishermen in the vessel too were arrested.

On his arrival from Sri Lanka, Fernando visited the Deputy High Commissioner’s office in Chennai on September 24, 2007 and was issued a letter by the Sri Lankan Mission as per practice to enable him to carry out logistical arrangements on behalf of the owner of the fishing vessel ‘Devdu Prasamsa,’ and the arrested fishermen.

The letter was issued by S. Khan, Counselor for the Deputy High Commissioner and the letter said that Fernando was visiting India for the release of the fishing vessel and the crew members. He requested the authorities concerned to assist and extend all possible cooperation to Fernando.

Fernando went to Madurai to meet the four Sri Lanka fishermen, Thompe Kaushan, Kurukulasuriya John Fernando, Sebastian Francis Kurukulasuriya and Sujan Kumara Fernando, who were in the seized vessel on June 13, 2007. They were accused of straying into Indian waters. They were arrested and held in the Madurai Central Prisons. The four Sri Lankans were charged under various sections of the Maritime Zone Act and Indian Passport Act, and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment. The prison terms ends on October 8.

Fernando went from Trichy to Madurai on October 05 and applied for permission to meet the Sri Lankan held in the prison by about 9.30 AM in the morning. Prison Superintendent told that the morning visiting hours was over and had asked him to come back at 4 PM in the afternoon.

Fernando who went to the prisons at 3.30 was accosted by Devarajan a Prison guard who abused Fernando for using the sanitized section of the frontage of the prison to enter the prison.

According to reports suddenly Deverajan lost his temper and shot at Fernando in the in the neck, and he died on admission to the hospital.

Officials said an inquiry into the killing of a Sri Lankan national by a security guard was initiated by the Revenue Divisional Officer. Among the top officials present at the inquiry were DIG prisons, G Moorthy, and Commissioner of Police, K Nandabalan.

In a complaint lodged with the Karimedu police, Jail Superintendent P. Govindarajan said the Sri Lankan national had not replied to questions raised by the outer security guard. Though the guard asked him to stand still in a particular spot, Mr. Fernando entered into an argument and rushed towards him. “Apprehending danger, the outer security guard Devarajan opened one round of fire from his self loading rifle at 3.25 p.m.,” Mr. Govindarajan said, adding that the bullet injured Mr. Fernando below the neck.

Asian Tribune –

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