CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up at the highest political level the arrest of fishermen from the state by Sri Lanka and said the number of those apprehended has now gone up to 87 besides their 39 boats.
Close on the heels of the arrest of 24 fishermen from Tamil Nadu with their 4 boats on October 12, nine more fishermen from Nagapattinam have been apprehended today along with their boat by the Sri Lankan Navy, she said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
“This is the seventh instance of arrest and remand of innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy within a span of three weeks,” she said expressing shock.
With the latest incident of apprehension, the total number of fishermen from Tamil Nadu currently in Sri Lankan custody has risen to 87 besides their 39 boats, she said.
“You will appreciate that these fishermen belong to the poorest sections of society and incarceration in an alien land means severe mental agony and loss of livelihood not only for the detainees but also for their beleaguered families,” she said.
The entire fishermen community in Tamil Nadu is “greatly exercised” over the repeated instances of apprehension, she said.
Stating that such continuous attacks should be countered by coercive diplomacy, she wanted Indian diplomats in Colombo to take up the matter with Sri Lanka and take concrete steps to secure the immediate release of all the 87 fishermen and their boats.
“The intervention should not only be at the diplomatic level but also at the highest political level. A strong message should be delivered to Sri Lanka that such unprovoked apprehensions should stop forthwith,” she said.
“I request you to take immediate action to secure the release of our 87 fishermen and 39 boats. I request urgent concrete action on this issue,” she said.
Meanwhile, a report from Rameswaram said Sri Lankan Naval personnel chased away fishermen from the island though they were fishing outside Lankan territorial waters.
The fishermen who set out to sea in more than 500 boats were drove away by the Lankan naval personnel who came in fast craft, local fishermen association leader Sahayaraj said.
He said about 100 boats had already returned to the shore and others were following suit.