The DMK on Sunday described as a “black legislation” a Sri Lankan fisheries bill and claimed it was aimed at “finishing off” Tamil Nadu fishermen’s vocation.
Referring to Sri Lanka’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill, DMK Working President M K Stalin said it would also affect the Indian fish export policies and urged the Centre to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan government.
“The black legislation brought with the intention of finishing off the vocation of Tamil Nadu fishermen will not only affect this state but also impede India’s fish export policies,” he said in a statement. Stalin said the legislation came at a time when talks between fishermen representatives of both India and Sri Lanka had progressed well on resolving the dispute (over traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay).
“It is a matter of concern that Sri Lanka has come up with such a black legislation with an aim to undermine the intention of the talks,” the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly said. He said though Sri Lanka called India a “friendly country”, it was coming up with “such efforts”, and wondered whether the latest move suits the “friendly country” tag.
India should, “at a consular or Prime Minister’s level” exert adequate pressure on Colombo over this matter and the state government should also take necessary steps, he said. Stalin’s statement comes days after Chief Minister K Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Sri Lanka’s move was aimed at preventing Indian fishermen from exercising their traditional fishing rights in the Palk Bay. The issue was also raised in the state Assembly by the DMK and the Congress last week.
Noting that more than 50 fishermen and 140 boats were still languishing in Sri Lankan custody, Stalin said the Centre should ensure their release. The Centre should also make attempts to retrieve Katchatheevu, an islet ceded in the 1970s by India to Sri Lanka, he added.