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Talks between US and Indian state of Tamil Nadu on compensation to victims of US navy shooting

US offers matching compensation announced by Tamil Nadu government to shooting victims

  • Friends of Muthu Muniraj, one of the fishermen injured at sea on Monday, check on him as he sleeps in the emerImage Credit: Reuters
  • Fishermen at Al Hamriya Port in Dubai.Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Xpress
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The US and the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu are discussing the compensation to be paid to the victims of US navy shooting off the Dubai coast.

A fisherman was killed and three of his colleagues — all from Tamil Nadu — were injured when a security team on board the US Navy ship fired at their small boat off Jebel Ali near Dubai on July 16.

“The talks are being held between the US Consulate in Chennai [in Tamil Nadu in India] and the Tamil Nadu Government”
-M.K. Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE
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Talks on compensation to the victims are ongoing between the US government and Tamil Nadu government directly, a top Indian diplomat told Gulf News Wednesday.

“The talks are being held between the US Consulate in Chennai [in Tamil Nadu in India] and the Tamil Nadu Government,” M.K. Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said. He said although the incident happened in the UAE, the Indian Embassy in the UAE is not involved in the talks about the compensation.

The ambassador was responding to Indian media reports quoting the spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs that the US had announced a solatium to the family of the deceased fisherman, Arumugam Sekar, and the three injured fishermen.

The reports said the US has offered to match the Rs500,000 (Dh33,230) solatium to Sekar and Rs50,000 (Dh3,318) to each of the three injured as announced by the government of Tamil Nadu.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin had said India believed this humanitarian gesture by the US would in no way prejudice the final outcome of the ongoing US investigations into the incident.

Asked about the ongoing investigations into the incident by the US and the UAE authorities, the Indian Ambassador said there was no further feedback as of yesterday but he would request the information next week.

However, Lokesh highlighted the Indian government spokesman’s statement that the US offer of solatium would not prejudice the final outcome of the ongoing US investigations.

The ambassador said two among the three injured fishermen undergoing treatment will take a few more days to leave the hospital in Dubai. One was already discharged from the hospital, he said. Lokesh said they have to stay here for the purpose of investigations. He said they can leave the country once they are advised so by the authorities, depending on the progress of the investigation.

Dubai Police said they were treating the action against the fishing boat as a case of murder.

The US Navy had said it was compelled to open fire as the fishermen had ignored the warning given to them. But Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, said he believed witness accounts that the US naval vessel gave no warning before opening fire on the boat.