The Defence Ministry on Wednesday accused the media of “incorrect and mischievous reporting” about the Indian Coast Guard’s alleged role in the firing on fishermen in Palk Bay last week.
Media reports had quoted a Coast Guard commander on Tuesday, refuting a claim by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the Coast Guard did not use the kind of bullets that were allegedly fired. The commander, however, did not confirm or deny the firing as it was not his ship that was allegedly involved.
The Coast Guard denied the allegation earlier, as well.
On November 13, two fishermen were injured in the alleged firing near Rameswaram. In the First Information Report, one fisherman said that Coast Guard personnel had asked them to stop fishing, but they could not as they had already laid the net. After this, he alleged that the crew fired at them and also beat them when they stopped their trawler.
The next day, the Coast Guard said it had chased the trawler for 50 minutes as it was engaged in “pair trawling” – which is not allowed – and had refused to stop when it was asked to. However, it denied the allegations of firing or use of force.
On Saturday, the defence minister said the Coast Guard chief had told her it does not use the kind of bullets that were allegedly fired.
“Mischievous twists and turns being given by a section of the media in Tamil Nadu to discredit the raksha mantri’s statement that no bullets were fired on the fishermen is...highly condemnable,” the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
“The Coast Guard station commander being quoted by some of the media channels has himself clearly stated that the Coast Guard ship in question is not under his command and therefore, he cannot confirm or deny anything on the incident,” it said.