The Madras High Court on Wednesday admitted a Public Interest Litigation that sought a direction to the Ministry of External Affairs to initiate diplomatic steps to release Tamil Nadu fishermen languishing in the prisons in Sri Lanka.
The litigation filed by Fishermen Care, represented by its president L T A Peter Rayan, claimed that hundreds of fishermen from Tamil Nadu have been killed and wounded by the Sri Lankan navy since 1983 for entering its waters. This was despite the fact that an agreement between India and Sri Lanka on demarcation of historical waters clearly gave rights to fishermen on both sides to fish in each others’ waters.
Citing a letter written by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 29, the petition said 82 TN fishermen were now languishing in Lankan jails, of which 35 were arrested recently. However, no proper action has been initiated by the Centre to secure their release.
The petition sought direction to the Centre to initiate diplomatic steps to set the fishermen free and also take up the issue of frequent attacks on Tamil fishermen with the Sri Lankan government.