CHENNAI: Acceding to the Centre’s demand to release 30 Sri Lankan fishermen under custody in Tamil Nadu on humanitarian grounds, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take measures to set free simultaneously before Christmas, the 66 fishers incarcerated in the island nation.
This follows the Centre’s two letters written by the Foreign Secretary dated December 1 and 11 to the State Chief Secretary requesting the release of the 30 Lankan fishermen and their fishing boats in custody in Tamil Nadu in order to pave the way for the release of 66 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 81 fishing boats currently in the island nation’s custody.
“In view of the approaching Christmas festival, in a spirit of accommodation and magnanimity and as a humanitarian gesture, the State government is prepared to release the 30 Lankan fishermen and their 19 boats on December 22, Panneerselvam said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
Stating that Tamil Nadu had always co-operated in ensuring a parallel and simultaneous release of fishermen of both the Indian and Lankan sides, he said now the Centre was insisting the State government to initiate the process of release of the island fishermen and their boats. Ordinarily, the State would have expected the Union government to have supported Tamil Nadu’s stand and prevailed upon the SL Government to arrange simultaneous release of fishermen. “It now appears that the Centre has ruled out this possibility. He requested the Prime Minister to ensure that the island government also released the 66 Tamil Nadu fishermen and their 81 boats in the custody of Lanka, so that they could also return home by Christmas.
“As you are aware, my beloved leader Puratchi Thalaivi Amma has consistently taken up the issue of the release of the Tamil Nadu fishermen and specifically of the fishing boats which have been detained since June, 2014”, he noted in the letter.