CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his immediate intervention to secure the release of 33 Indian fishermen, who were arrested by Sri Lankan authorities on the high sea. The letter — her first on the fishermen issue — came two days ahead of her scheduled personal interaction with Modi in Delhi. Jayalalithaa said the arrests had come on the very first day of fishing after the 45-day fishing ban period, and expressed hope that the new government would be decisive in the issue, unlike the ‘meek and weak’ response by the erstwhile UPA government.
“I write this letter with a deep sense of anguish that, right at the beginning of the fishing season on June 1, after a 45-day fishing ban, 33 innocent Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu, along with their seven fishing boats, have been apprehended and detained by the Sri Lankan Navy,” read Jayalalithaa’s letter. She added that there had been 76 incidents of arrests and 67 attacks by the Lankan Navy in the past three years.
“This resumption of abductions and detentions has sent shock waves throughout the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu. There was an expectation that, with the change of government at the Centre, there would be a reset in relations with Sri Lanka and such attacks and apprehensions would cease,” said Jayalalithaa.
She blamed the ceding of Katchatheevu as the root cause for the problem, and recalled that Tamil Nadu had helped facilitate fishermen-level talks to resolve the issue. She said the ‘meek and weak response of the erstwhile UPA government’ had emboldened the Lankan Navy to act against the fishermen of TN.