CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps for the immediate release of six fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on January 17 and 19.
She said the incidents are shocking when Tamil Nadu is eagerly awaiting the homecoming of the 104 fishermen whose release has been announced after several months of incarceration in Sri Lankan Jails.
In the latest incident, three fishermen in a mechanised boat from Kottaipattinam in Pudukottai District were apprehended by the Lankan Navy in the late hours of January 17 and taken to Kankesanthurai.
Three others in motorised country craft from Sethubavachatram in Thanjavur District, were apprehended on 19 January, the Chief Minister said.
“The right to fish in the traditional waters of Palk Bay, which has been historically enjoyed by our fishermen in Tamil Nadu, is now being continuously denied by the Sri Lankan Navy. It is my Government’s stand that the Government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds by me in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” Jayalalithaa said.
Expressing happiness on the release of 104 fishermen, she said it must not be forgotten that 66 fishing boats and gear, which are the basic requirement for fishermen to earn their livelihood, had not been released yet. These boats and gear continue to suffer damage and deterioration due to long periods of disuse and exposure to the elements particularly due to the heavy North East Monsoon this year.
Seeking the return of boats, the Chief Minister asked Modi to direct the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs to take expeditious action through diplomatic channels to secure the release of the 6 fishermen along with 68 fishing boats.
Rs 1L aid to manual Scavengers’ kin
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday expressed deep grief for the death of three persons from a family in Okkiyam Thoraipakkam and another person from Thiruvangore, Tiruchy district. They choked to death while cleaning a septic tank on January 10. She granted Rs 1 lakh each to the families of these persons and Rs 50,000 to Viji who was injured.