Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday ruffled feathers of political leaders and fishermen organisations with her claim that distanced the Coast Guard from a firing incident off the Rameswaram coast earlier this week in which two fishermen were injured. “Where did the bullet (that hurt fishermen) come from. We don’t have such bullets. How could it be from us (Coast Guard). Don’t point fingers at us (Coast Guard). Only an inquiry will reveal who was behind the firing,” she told reporters as a controversy brewed over the firing incident.

Fishermen associations had earlier in the week announced a protest against the incident and even threatened not to go for fishing accusing the Coast Guard of firing at local fishermen because they spoke in Tamil. However, they withdrew the protest after the Coast Guard headquarters in Chennai offered an apology and ordered an inquiry. Reacting to Sitharaman’s statement, DMK Working President MK Stalin said it was unfortunate that the Defence Minister was asking where the bullet came from. “It is an insult to the hurt feelings of the fishermen,” he told reporters.

Jesu and Sahayam, office bearers of fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said the Defence Minister’s statement was contradicting the statements of Coast Guard officials, who admitted that their force was behind the firing incident and tendered an apology. It was on this basis that the fishermen withdrew their protest. “It is very unfortunate,” they said.