Making it clear that the continuing attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy are crossing the limits, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday advocated the use of coercive diplomacy by the Centre to effectively counter them. Significantly, this is the first time the Chief Minister has called for the use of coercive diplomacy, though in the past she has demanded embargo on the island nation for ‘war crimes’ against ethnic Tamils there.
“These continuous attacks and abductions are acts of an unfriendly nation and should be countered effectively by coercive diplomacy. A strong message should be delivered through diplomatic channels that India will not tolerate these attacks,” she said in her latest letter to the Prime Minister on the issue.
Indian diplomats in Colombo, she said, should take up the matter with the Lanka and take concrete steps to secure the immediate release of all the 90 fishermen languishing in jails there.
Requesting the PM’s personal and immediate intervention in the matter, she urged him to initiate a diplomatic dialogue with Colombo to immediately stop the recurrence of arrests and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk bay, which has been their traditional fishing area from time immemorial.
Jayalalithaa observed that frequent arrests and detention of the fishermen for months together by Lanka have created tension and agitation among the coastal community in the State. Apart from the harassment at the hands of the island navy, she pointed out that the fishermen also come under attack from miscreants posing as seafarers.
“The Tamil Nadu fishermen community now nurses a strong grievance against the government of India that it has forsaken them during a time of crisis and is apathetic to their interests,” the CM said.
Immobility and apathy of the government, in her view, results in ineffective response which has emboldened the Lankan Navy to continue predatory attacks on Indian fishermen with impunity.