CHENNAI: Expressing serious concern over the burgeoning number of fishermen from Tamil Nadu being arrested by Lankan Navy, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday underscored the sense of despondency prevailing among the fishermen community due to the ‘apparent lack’ of any serious effort by Government of India to obtain the early release of arrested fishermen.
“Continued incarceration of the fishermen and their boats for extended periods and the apparent lack of any serious effort on behalf of the Government of India to obtain their early release has contributed in no small measure to the sense of despondency amongst the coastal fishermen community”, the Chief Minister said in her letter to the Prime Minister.
Stating that the total number of fishermen arrested by Lankan Navy had reached 104 and the number of boats in their custody to be 66 in number, Jayalalithaa said, “it is imperative to proactively initiate an appropriate set of actions that will bring about a permanent solution to this sensitive issue that plagues the livelihood of thousands of Tamil Nadu fishermen.” She said the Prime Minister should take immediate steps to release these fishermen and their boats.
Referring to the four incidents that had occurred in rapid succession in the last 24 hours in which 20 fishermen in four mechanised fishing boats had been arrested, the Chief Minister said it is regrettable that many of these fishermen are continuing to be kept in custody for several weeks now. She said the 66 boats have been lying on the sea shore, completely exposed to the elements. “The boats and the fishing gear would have become completely unusable by now. This has been a big blow to the livelihood of these fisherfolk families”, she added.