Jayalalithaa seeks Modi’s help to secure release of 14 Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody

CHENNAI: A day after 14 Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy for crossing the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL), chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention.

“It is unfortunate that, in yet another incident, 14 fishermen who set sail from the Rameswaram and Mandapam fishing bases in Ramanathapuram district on three boats were apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy in the late hours of November 18. They have been taken to Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka,” said Jayalalithaa in the letter.

The chief minister also said on November 8, four fishermen on a motorised country boat who drifted and got stranded on the Sri Lankan shores due to engine failure were yet to be sent back to India.

“Already 47 fishing boats along with fishing gear, which are essential for fishermen to earn their livelihood, are still in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities and have not yet been released. The impounded boats that are perilously berthed face the imminent threat of damage due to long periods of disuse and the onset of the monsoon,” Jayalalithaa said.

The chief minister once again raised the issues of Kachchatheevu and the comprehensive special package for deep sea fishing.

“The livelihood issue of thousands of our fishermen needs your personal intervention. The central government should not allow this issue to fester further. I request you to take immediate action through diplomatic channels to secure the release of the 14 Indian fishermen and 50 fishing boats from Sri Lankan custody as well as to ensure the early return of the four fishermen,” said Jayalalithaa.