RAMESWARAM: Sri Lankan Navy arrested five Tamil Nadu fishermen today and seized their boat on charges of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in their waters.
Rameswaram fishermen Association President S Emirit said the fishermen were fishing near Katchatheevu islet when the navy personnel arrested them.
The navy had on October 2 arrested seven fishermen who went for fishing in the sea from here while on October 10, 19 fishermen hailing from Nagapattinam were arrested.
Again in October 13, 24 fishermen from Rameswaram have been arrested. Nine more fishermen from Nagapattinam have been apprehended the next day.
Similarly, 34 fishermen have been arrested on October October 27 on charges of fishing in Sri Lankan waters.
Expressing shock over these arrests, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written letters on various occasions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to take up the arrest of the state's fishermen with Sri Lanka and sought their release.
"I have repeatedly and emphatically pointed out that the unconstitutionality of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 and the ceding of the Katchatheevu islet, is the root cause of the problem," she had said.
Emirit alleged that the Centre was "not taking" any action to prevent arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen, who had "no other option except crossing IMBL for fishing." He said the distance between two sea coast was only 12 nautical miles.
"Mechanised boats can't fish within three nautical miles from the Tamil Nadu shore. Another four nautical miles is rocky. They had no other option except crossing the IMBL in view of narrow sea dividing the countries", she said.
Besides, the Katchatheevu agreement gave them the right to fish in traditional waters. "If the government was not able to provide protection to the fishermen, let them take the boats and give us alternative livelihood", he said.