CHENNAI: The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 49 fishermen from Tamil Nadu after firing in the air, prompting Chief Minister K Palaniswami to shoot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today stating that the action was "totally unacceptable".
In the letter to Modi, Palaniswami alleged that in a series of incidents that occurred yesterday, "the Sri Lankan Navy terrorised Tamil Nadu fishermen by ramming the boats with armoured naval vessels and arrested 49 fishermen in 12 fishing boats".
The arrested fishermen, belonging to Pudukottai and Jagadapattinam districts, were taken to Kangesanthurai by the navy personnel, Fisheries Assistant Director Shivakumar told PTI.
The Sri Lankan Navy's completely unwarranted display of military might against poor, innocent fishermen ramming their flimsy boats with naval vessels and endangering lives of non- combatant is "totally unacceptable", he said.
The apprehension of fishermen "en masse" has come as a "rude shock" at a time when the process of conversion of trawling boats to long-liners was kick-started at Rameswaram recently, Palaniswami said.
The attack and apprehensions clearly point to the scant regard on the Sri Lankan side for the efforts by the governments of India and Tamil Nadu in resolving the fishing issue "peacefully", he said.
Recalling his earlier request that a "strong diplomatic offensive" should be launched to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, Palaniswami urged Modi to take up the matter personally with the highest authorities in the Island Nation.
"I also request you to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to secure the immediate release of 113 fishermen along with 137 boats from the Sri Lankan Navy along with the latest fishermen who were apprehended," he added.