CHENNAI: Bringing to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi yet another incident of arrest of 17 Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy on June 29, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday reiterated her view that the Centre should not treat the issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as settled, as the very ownership of Katchatheevu islet and the unconstitutionality the 1974 and 1976 agreements, by which the islet was ceded to Sri Lanka, were the subject matter of litigation in the Supreme Court of India.
“My government looks to your immediate and emphatic response to this issue and to ensure that it is taken up at the highest levels with the Sri Lankan government, so that our fishermen are not repeatedly arrested and abducted in high seas of the Palk Bay,” the Chief Minister said in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She also requested the Prime Minister to ensure an early and strong diplomatic action to secure the immediate release of all the 28 Indian fishermen along with their 41 fishing boats, including the 11 fishermen and 38 boats already in Sri Lanka’s custody. “I look forward to an early and decisive response,” she added.
Thanking the Prime Minister for his prompt and positive response to her earlier letter dated June 19, Jayalalithaa said the effective intervention by the Centre had led to the release of 46 fishermen apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on June 18. She also recalled that in response to her letter dated June 24, seven fishermen detained by the Lankan Navy on June 19 had also been freed. However, she pointed out that 11 more fishermen who were apprehended on June 23 were yet to be released by Lankan government. Further, the boats and gear of the fishermen released so far were yet to be returned to them.
The Chief Minister pointed out that these continued and repeated instances of apprehension and abduction of our fishermen by the Lankan Navy were adding to the very heightened sense of unrest and resentment among the Tamil Nadu fishermen.