The Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday reportedly detained 22 fishermen from Tamil Nadu — a move likely to fuel protests in the southern state simmering over a series of similar arrests.
A delegation of fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, requesting him to take steps for the release of the fishermen lodged in Sri Lankan jails. According to the delegation, around 227 fishermen have been arrested over the past three months.
On Sunday morning, 22 fishermen from Jagadapattinam in Pudukottai district were arrested by Sri Lankan naval personnel for allegedly fishing in the country’s territorial waters and taken to Kangesanthurai Port along with their six boats, an official said quoting information received by him.
The Sri Lankan Navy also reportedly chased away another group of fishermen when they were fishing near Katchatheevu after allegedly snapping their fishing nets.
Tension prevailed in the coastal hamlets in Pudukottai following the arrests, the official said.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa, a week ago, had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, expressing dismay over reports of Indian Coast Guard participating in naval exercises with Sri Lankan Navy.
She had highlighted the fishermen arrest issue and said the Sri Lankan Navy continued to prey on innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu and subjected them to abduction, arrest, torture and long periods of detention.
Earlier this year, faced with protests by political parties in Tamil Nadu, Singh did not attend a Commonwealth summit held in November in the island nation.
A two-decade long Sri Lankan civil war fraught with alleged human rights violations has strained India’s ties with the island nation.
A UN report suggests Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese-dominated forces may have killed as many as 40,000 Tamils — a minority group in the island nation — towards the end of the war in 2009.