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Lanka not asked to return Indian ships

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 17 November 2009 08:51 No Comment]

The Sri Lankan Navy denied reports that it had received any request from the Indian government to return the two Coast Guard vessels the latter had given on annual, renewable lease. “As far as the navy is concerned, we have not been asked to return the ships,” spokesman Capt Athula Senarath told Express here on Monday.

A Delhi-based paper had reported that the Indian Coast Guard had made a case for the return of the two vessels, ICGS Varaha and Vigraha, on the grounds that the LTTE was now “dead and gone”.

The Island daily noted that one of the two vessels, Varaha had been taken to Kolkata for refitting. An Indian crew had come to take the vessel and accompanying them were officers and technicians from the Lankan navy. “If India wanted to take the ships back, this would not have happened,” a Lankan defence expert said.

The two vessels renamed as SLNS Sayurala (in place of Vigraha) and Sagara (in place of Varaha) had played a major role in the destruction of eight floating warehouses of the LTTE over a period of a-year-and-a-half.

“Sri Lanka is eternally grateful to the government of India for leasing out the two warships on friendly terms,” The Island said.

OUTSOURCING NAVAL POLICING: With the Rajapaksa government building a modern port in Humbantota in the extreme south, facing an East-West sea lane through which about 200 ships pass every day, the need to police the coast and the blue sea beyond has arisen.

It is felt that this has to be done in the interest of India as well as Sri Lanka.

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