After 12 more Indian fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankan navy in another instance recently, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday shot off another letter to the Centre, seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the matter.
Jayalalithaa said people of the state were “unhappy with the lack of any concrete measures on behalf of the Government of India on the vexed fishermen issue.”
In the letter to the PM seeking his intervention for release of 104 fishermen and 66 boats from Sri Lanka, she said it was “very regrettable” that many of these fishermen remained under Lankan custody for long period, unable to spend the festive season with their families.
She wrote to Modi following the arrest of 12 Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy when they were fishing near Katchatheevu today.
“The continued incarceration of the fishermen and their boats for extended periods and the apparent lack of any serious effort on behalf of the Government of India to obtain their early release has contributed in no small measure to the sense of despondency amongst the coastal fishermen community,” she said.
While her government was committed in restoring and upholding the ‘historic rights’ of the state’s fishermen to fish in their traditional fishing waters of Palk Bay, the repeated attempts by Lankan Navy to ‘infringe’ on these rights needed to be ended through concerted efforts by the Centre.
People in Tamil Nadu were also “increasingly unhappy” over the lack of any concrete measures by the Centre, she said.
She said it was imperative to proactively initiate an appropriate set of actions for permanent solution to this “sensitive issue that plagues the livelihood of thousands of Tamil Nadu fishermen.”
Seeking Modi’s personal intervention, she urged him to ensure that the matter “is effectively taken up at the highest level with the Sri Lankan Government to secure the immediate release of 104 fishermen and 66 fishing boats currently in Sri Lankan custody.”
While reiterating her demand for a Rs 1,520 crore deep-sea fishing package from Centre, Jayalalithaa also recalled her government’s opposition to the Indo-Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 ceding Katchatheevu islet to Sri Lanka.
Jayalalithaa had earlier written to Modi, voicing concern over recurring instances of such arrests.