Chennai: Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure the immediate release without any delay of the 34 fishermen and 95 fishing boats currently in Sri Lankan custody. The tally included the 5 fishermen and their mechanised fishing boat apprehended on Sunday.
In a letter to Mr Modi, she said that 5 fishermen who set sail from Rameswaram fishing base of Ramanathapuram in a mechanised boat were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of Sunday and taken to Kankesanthurai in the Island nation.
“The repeated instances of abduction and apprehension of innocent Indian fishermen belonging to the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu adjoining the Palk Bay, by the Sri Lankan Navy, while engaged in earning their meagre livelihood by fishing in their traditional fishing waters, is a matter of grave concern. I have repeatedly emphasised the importance of the Government of India undertaking a strong diplomatic offensive to uphold the rights and interests of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu,” she said.
Pointing out that the unconstitutional ceding of the Indian territory of Katchatheevu Island by the agreements of 1974 and 1976 have been challenged by her on valid legal grounds in the Supreme Court of India, she said despite her repeated appeals to the Centre to ensure that the traditional fishing rights of the state fishermen were upheld through a permanent solution to this sensitive livelihood issue, the situation at sea remains precarious with the unabated offensive actions of the Sri Lankan navy.
“The Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing the fishing boats, the sole and only source of livelihood of the poor fishermen, is further aggravating the situation. At present 95 impounded fishing boats remain insecurely berthed in Sri Lanka and are sustaining severe damages,” she said, requesting that a calibrated set of actions were immediately initiated to ensure that TN fishermen were allowed to pursue their livelihood with freedom in their traditional waters.