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Body of US Navy shooting victim to reach India today

Sajila Saseendran / 24 July 2012

The remains of an Indian fisherman, who died after US Navy personnel fired at a fishing boat off the coast of Dubai last Monday, will be sent to his family in India on Wednesday.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE M.K. Lokesh told Khaleej Times this afternoon that the remains of Arumugam Sekar would be sent to Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) Airport in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday morning.

‘We are making the final arrangements for repatriation. It will be done tomorrow morning,’ he said.

The envoy said the family of Sekar, who hailed from Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district, had requested the body be sent to the Trichy Airport. ‘The body is accompanied by a friend of the dead person. The Indian government will pay for his ticket as well,’ he said.

Sekar’s distraught family has been waiting to see him for the last time ever since they heard the tragic news that the 28-year-old died on the spot after being shot by security guards aboard the US Navy’s refueling ship USNS Rappahannock.

The incident happened around 3pm on July 16 at the mouth of the Jebel Ali Port. Three other Indian fishermen who received bullet injuries, Muthu Muniraj, Kaliappan Muthukumar and Pandu Sanathan, are still under treatment in Rashid Hospital. There were two other Indian fishermen and two Emiratis aboard the vessel at the time of the incident.

Though the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet had said that the shooting of the fishing vessel was prompted after it approached at high speed and ignored repeated warnings, the survivors maintained that there was no warning issued.

Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police, last week said a murder case was registered and, according to their testimony, the Indian fishermen were not warned to move away by the US Navy.

The case is now under investigation by the Dubai Public Prosecution. A parallel investigation has been on by the US Navy as well. Both the UAE and US authorities have agreed to share the details of the investigations to India, according to the ambassador.



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