55 TN fishermen held, 8 boats seized by SL Navy; CM urges Centre to act
As many as 55 Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested and 8 boats seized by Sri Lankan Naval personnel on Sunday following which Chief Minister M K Stalin took up the matter with the Centre to secure their release and all the 73 boats captured so far by the neighbouring country.
Stalin spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar over phone and requested him to take immediate steps to get the over 50 fishermen and their 8 boats released from Sri Lanka.
“The Union Minister assured immediate action,” an official release said. Stalin, writing to Jaishankar, took up the issue of continuing harassment of fishermen at the hands of Lankan Naval personnel. A total of 73 boats, including the 8 seized now, is being held by Lankan authorities, the CM said, urging action. The official here said that soon after the apprehension of 43 fishermen and seizure of 6 boats from Rameswaram, 12 other fishers of Mandapam area were also subsequently taken into custody. Two boats of Mandapam fishermen were also seized, he said.
Demanding their immediate release, the fishermen association here said it would stage a protest on Monday and announced launch of an ‘indefinite strike’ as well.
Stalin, in a letter to Jaishankar said he was saddened over the continuing arrest and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Lankan Navy at an ‘alarming frequency’ despite the state government taking up the issue with the central government. “I would also like to point out that, in the year 2021 itself there were 19 incidents of apprehension and attack of Tamil Nadu fishermen,” the CM said.
Though the fishermen were released, fishing boats, the source of livelihood for them, are still detained by authorities of the island nation. “Further, during the same period, there were two instances of attacks and five fishermen were killed,” Stalin noted.
The repeated attempts by the Lankan Navy to prevent Indian fishermen from exercising their traditional fishing rights through ‘intimidatory tactics’ must not be allowed to continue further, he added.
Urging concerted action by the Centre to address this ‘festering’ issue, he sought the External Affairs Minister’s intervention to secure the immediate release of 55 fishermen and 73 fishing boats (including boats seized in previous incidents) from Sri Lanka. Fishermen departed on December 18 from here in over 500 boats and were fishing off Katchatheevu island when 43 of them were arrested and six boats seized early on Sunday, the Fisheries department official said.
Following their arrest, they were taken to Kangesanthurai camp, a fishermen association leader and authorities said.
Ramanathapuram MP, K Navas Kani spoke to union ministers and urged them to take immediate steps for the release of the fishermen and their boats.