COLOMBO Allen Iverson Authentic Jersey , March 11 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has provoked a storm over his controversial statement to fire on Indian fishermen poaching in the country's waters ahead of Indian prime minister's historic visit to the country later this week.
Making a statement after the issue was raised in the Indian parliament, External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj, who met with Wickremesinghe during her two-day visit to the island nation last week, said that she had taken it up with Wickremesinghe.
Swaraj said she was in Sri Lanka when she read the transcript of the interview in which Wickremesinghe justified the firing on Indian fishermen intruding into Sri Lankan waters.
The Sri Lankan prime minister said on Friday that the Indian fishermen were taking away the livelihood of Sri Lankan fishermen in the north and the law allows the security forces to shoot an intruder "breaking into a man's home."
"My meeting was fixed with Wickremesinghe, so I raised the issue strongly with him," the Indian minister said.
Swaraj has told Wickremesinghe that the Indian fishermen released from Sri Lankan prisons in January -- after a new government took office in Colombo -- went through the whole legal procedure, website Colombo Page reported.
The Indian minister said she had reminded Wickremesinghe that Indian Coast Guard recently arrested 19 Sri Lankan fishermen, but "we gave orders to release them."
"I said that if we justify firing, we will keep firing at each other," she added.
Sushma Swaraj said India wants a "permanent solution" to the dragging dispute involving fishermen from both countries who often enter the waters of each other's country for fishing. Swaraj was in Sri Lanka to prepare for the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be making the first visit by an Indian prime minister in 28 years. Modi will also visit the country's former war-torn Northern Province during his two-day tour.
India's opposition members took to twitter on Monday to criticize Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over this comment to shoot Indian fishermen poaching in local waters.
"It's 'bure din' for India if SL can dare to flash eyes to India as it has on fishermen's issues," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in a series of tweets.
Singvi also criticized Wickremesinghe for his remarks and said he does not "deserve" to be Sri Lanka's prime minister if he cannot differentiate between intruders and straying fishermen.
"Yes Mr. Ranil, u can shoot intruders entering ur house; bt if u shoot straying innocent bystanders u r liable to be shot at, tried 4 murder."
"If Sri Lankan PM cannot differentiate between intruders & straying fishermen & finds shooting as only option, he doesn't deserve to be PM!" he tweeted.
Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed expressed shock over Ranil's statement. "On the eve of PM Modi's tour to Sri Lanka, its PM says if Indian fishermen will enter our territory we will shoot them."
"A lasting situation should be found, no extreme action should be taken by SL defense forces," Anand Sharma, another senior Congress leader, posted on Twitter.
Talking about the fishermen issue, Wickremesinghe told a Tamil TV channel on Friday that, "If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed... Law allows me to do that. "
Sri Lanka and India have been deadlocked for years over fishermen from each other's country poaching. Both sides have arrested dozens and at times hundreds of fishermen and released them later.
Renewed talks between the two sides are expected to coincide with Modi's visit but the Sri Lankan government has been steadfastly against bottom trawling by Indian fishermen that destroys the seabed and harms breeding grounds of fish.
Kobe Bryant (right) of the Lakers shields the ball against Kent Bazemore of the Hawks on Tuesday in Atlanta. Photo: CFP
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and passed the 32,000-point mark for his NBA career on Tuesday to spark the Los Angeles Lakers over the Atlanta Hawks 114-109.
The Lakers, who snapped a four-game losing streak, recorded their first road -triumph of the season and only their second triumph in 11 starts while the Hawks fell to 5-5 in the young campaign with their first loss in five home games.
NBA scoring leader Bryant made 10 of 18 shots and added four rebounds, three -assists and a steal for the Lakers, finishing on 32,001 points with a three-point play off his final jump shot.
The total puts Bryant 291 points behind Michael Jordan for third on the all-time NBA scoring list.
"It's a lot of work over 19 years," Bryant said. "It's been tough. But you find beauty in the process."
The Lakers welcomed back Nick Young, who had been sidelined so far this season with a torn right thumb ligament. Young scored 17 points off the bench while Carlos Boozer added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Jeremy Lin contributed 15 points and a game-high 10 assists for the Lakers.
Paul Millsap scored 29 points to lead the Hawks, who also had 23 points from Jeff Teague and 15 points from Al Horford.
In the first half, the Lakers hardly looked like a team that had lost nine of its first 10 games, putting up a season high for points in a half while racing to a 67-52 lead.
"Games are not won in the first quarter," Kyle Korver of the Hawks said. "But they can be lost in the first quarter. We've got to do better at the start of the game. We've got to bring more -energy, bring more juice."
Atlanta scored the first 13 points of the second half only to falter and never moved ahead of Los Angeles the rest of the way.
A left-handed running shot fell for Bryant to put the Lakers ahead 105-100 with 2:25 to play and after two Korver free throws for Atlanta, Bryant made the key three-point play.
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