CHENNAI: With incidents of apprehension of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by Sri Lanka continuing ‘unabated’, the state government today said that it created a sense of fear and unrest among the community.
“The attacks on and apprehension of our fishermen continue unabated, creating a sense of fear and unrest among the fisherfolk in Tamil Nadu,” Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she took up the latest arrest of 15 Indian fishermen, saying “they were fishing in the Palk Bay which historically is their traditional fishing waters.”
“The issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line is sub judice in the Supreme Court of India, wherein the validity of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 ceding the islet of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka has been challenged by me on very valid grounds to which the Government of Tamil Nadu has also impleaded itself as a party,” she recalled.
Jayalalithaa said that already 50 boats were under Lankan custody and the fishermen were concerned that these would become unsalvageable after the “onslaught of the North East monsoon which has been particularly heavy this year.”
She said it was “highly disheartening” to see that the only means of livelihood of several fishermen had been left without care and exposed to adverse weather conditions along the coast of Sri Lanka.
“Hence it is imperative that the issue of the release of these boats is taken up with the highest levels of the Sri Lankan administration and the immediate release of these boats is ensured,” she said.
She also urged the Prime Minister to immediately direct the officials concerned in the Ministry of External Affairs to take immediate action through diplomatic channels to secure the release of a total of 29 fishermen and 53 fishing boats.
In addition, four fishermen in a motorised fishing boat who had drifted away on November eight to the Sri Lankan shores due to mechanical failure continued to be stranded there and their early return also needs to be secured, she said.