Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the arrest of 37 fisherman from Nagapattinam at the highest diplomatic-level and secure their release and 18 boats now in the custody of Sri Lankan Navy.
In a letter to Mr Modi, the Chief Minister said it should be ensured that this unfortunate incident received the much needed attention it deserved
“It is unfortunate that this incident has taken place immediately after the third round of fishermen level talks which were recently held at Chennai on March 24. At a time when we were hopeful that a pragmatic and permanent solution to this issue would emerge as a result of the fishermen level talks, it is disconcerting to read media reports quoting senior Sri Lankan leaders, stating that the Sri Lankan Navy would be directed to apprehend Indian fishermen fishing in their traditional fishing waters of the Palk Bay,” he said.
Mr. Panneerselvam said the act of the Sri Lankan Navy would be seen in the light of these statements and would again heighten the anxiety and unrest in the minds of our fishermen and vitiate the atmosphere of goodwill which was generated as a result of the fishermen-level talks.
“A firm, clear, unequivocal and unambiguous message should be sent out by India to the Sri Lankan side to ensure that these trends are reversed and the livelihood of the poor and innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu are protected,” he added.
Mr. Panneerselvan said the statements and the most recent incident yet again had highlighted the importance of retrieving the Katchatheevu and abrogation of the 1974 and 1976 agreements thereby restoring the traditional and historical fishing grounds of the Palk Bay to the Tamil Nadu fishermen. He reiterated that the Tamil Nadu government had the greatest concern for the conservation of the marine ecosystem and did not support unsustainable practices.
“Sri Lankan leaders’ statement will only heighten anxiety in the minds of fishermen.”