CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps for the immediate release of 37 fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan navy, including the eight taken captives on Sunday.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, she urged him to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities in a concrete and decisive manner so as to secure the immediate release of 37 fishermen and 55 boats.
“I also request you to expedite the return of four Indian fishermen and their motorised craft which drifted to the Sri Lankan shores on 8.11.2015 due to mechanical failure and remain still stranded there,” she said.
She also requested the Prime Minister “to proactively initiate an appropriate set of actions that will bring about a permanent solution to the sensitive issue that plagues the livelihood of thousands of Tamil Nadu fishermen who fish in their traditional fishing grounds in the Palk Bay and are facing the daily threat of abduction at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy.”
In the latest incident, eight fishermen who set out for fishing in two mechanised boats from the Rameswaram fishing base in Ramanathapuram district and
Jegathapattinam fishing near Pudukkottai district, had been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of Sunday and taken to Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu is committed to ensuring that the historic rights of fishermen from Tamil Nadu to fish in their traditional fishing waters of the Palk Bay are protected and preserved. The repeated attempts by the Sri Lankan Navy to prevent the exercise of these traditional rights by apprehensions, arrests and assaults need to be brought to an end through concerted efforts by the Government of India,” the Chief Minister said.
“You are well aware that the position of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) itself is a matter which is sub judice in the Supreme Court of India as I have challenged the constitutional validity of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 in my personal capacity, and subsequently, the Government of Tamil Nadu has also impleaded itself in this case,” the Chief Minister pointed out.
The State government is implementing various innovative schemes for deep sea fishing and infrastructure. “One of the efforts of my Government is the launch of a prestigious scheme for the first time in the country of providing subsidy up to `30 lakh for procuring new deep sea fishing boats, aimed at equipping our fishermen to expand their deep sea fishing capabilities,” she pointed out.