CHENNAI: Hours after the Sri Lankan Navy arrested eight Tamil Nadu fishermen and seized their two boats, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure the release of a total of 37 fishermen and 55 boats, including those held today.
Stating that eight fishermen had set out for fishing in two mechanised boats from Ramanathapuram and Pudukkottai districts, she said they were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of today.
"The repeated attempts by the Sri Lankan Navy to prevent the exercise of the traditional rights by apprehensions, arrests and assaults need to be brought to an end through concerted efforts by the Government of India," she said in a letter to Modi.
"May I request you to proactively initiate an appropriate set of actions that will bring about a permanent solution to this sensitive issue," she said.
She reiterated her demand for an assistance package of Rs 1,520 crore with a recurring grant of Rs 10 crore per annum for maintenance dredging from the Centre for deep sea fishing and infrastructure.
Expressing anguish over the Sri Lankan "strategy" of not releasing the apprehended boats and fishing gear even after fishermen's release, she said it "has severely impaired the means of livelihood of fishermen, causing great frustration among them."
"This is also an issue which has to be resolved without further delay, given the huge risk of deterioration of the fishing boats and gear which lie unattended."
She also requested Modi to expedite the return of four Indian fishermen and their motorised craft which drifted to the Sri Lankan shores on November 8 due to mechanical failure and still remain stranded there.