CHENNAI: Expressing deep disappointment over Sri Lanka’s decision not to release the 81 boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen while setting free the 66 fishermen, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately take up the issue with Colombo.
“The Lankan government’s decision not to release the 81 boats confirms the apprehension that Colombo is pursuing a sinister strategy of depriving the fishermen in Tamil Nadu of their source of livelihood,” he said in a letter to Modi on Saturday.
In view of the approaching Christmas festival, TN Government had, in a spirit of accommodation and magnanimity and as a humanitarian gesture, already conveyed its readiness to release the 30 Lankan fishermen and 19 boats from December 22, the Chief Minister said. The Centre was urged to ensure that Colombo simultaneously release the 66 fishermen and their 81 boats so that they could also return home in time for the festival. But the letter dated December 19, received from the Ministry of External Affairs had informed that the Lankan government was agreeable only to release 66 Indian fishermen but not the boats. “However, in a spirit of generosity and magnanimity, the Tamil Nadu government will go ahead with the release of all the 30 Lankan fishermen from December 22,” he said expressing hope that the 66 fishermen from Tamil Nadu in Sri Lankan custody will also return home well in time for Christmas.
In this connection, he recalled his predecessor J Jayalalithaa consistently taking up the issue of the release of the fishing boats detained since June, 2014, leading to their deterioration in the South-West and North-East monsoon periods.