Expressing deep anguish over the arrest of 19 more fishermen from Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram districts by Lankan Navy on February 1, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday said the fishermen community here suspect the arrests to be a deliberate attempt by the Lankan Navy to derail the process of peaceful resolution to the issue.
“Such repeated actions undermine all the confidence and goodwill which we are attempting to build. It would give rise to greater frustration in the minds of the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu, not only about the attitude of the Lankan government, but also about the inability of Indian government to effectively protect their interests,” the Chief Minister pointed out in her letter to the Prime Minister on Monday.
Jayalalithaa described the continuing arrest of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Lankan Navy as hostile acts of oppression which had caused untold misery and hardship to the apprehended fishermen and their families.
“This is even more heart-rending in the context of all the proactive steps that have been taken by my government in recent weeks to facilitate direct talks between the Tamil Nadu fishermen and Lankan fishermen which created an overall environment of goodwill,” she said.
The fresh arrests have sent shockwaves throughout the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu, who were looking forward to a pragmatic and workable solution emerging for their day-to-day fishing activities in the Palk Bay on account of the direct talks with their counterparts in Sri Lanka.
Recalling that already 38 fishermen who were apprehended on January 29 with six boats were in Lankan custody, the Chief Minister sought the Prime Minister’s personal intervention in the issue. The Chief Minister requested him to use the diplomatic channels to secure the immediate release of 57 fishermen and their 11 boats at the earliest.