In the wake of arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking laying down a time-bound action plan to achieve a “long-term, permanent solution to the problem and also to put in place a strong and robust diplomatic response”.
In her letter to Modi, Jayalalithaa cited the arrest of 82 fishermen by Lankan Navy on Saturday in two separate incidents and said, “As an immediate measure, I request you to kindly ensure that India registers the strongest disapproval of the belligerent actions of the Sri Lankan Navy.”
Requesting that the issue be raised with the highest level on the Sri Lankan side to secure the fishermen’s release, she said, “I am confident that with the Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu acting in concert, it would be possible to achieve a permanent solution to this vexatious issue.”
There have been 77 incidents of apprehension and 67 incidents of harassment of and attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last three years, causing tremendous agitation amongst the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu, she said.
The repetition of aggressive acts by Sri Lankan side, immediately after the change in government at the Centre and the consequent reset in the relations with Sri Lanka does not seem to augur well for the peaceful pursuit of fishing in the Palk Bay by fishermen from Tamil Nadu, she contended.
“A permanent solution to this problem must be found by a decisive initiative under your leadership.”
Observing that retrieval of Katchatheevu and talks between fishermen of the two sides could also help to resolve day to day issues, she said, “Even on this limited issue, the Sri Lankan side had adopted obdurate and obstructive attitudes which led to the failure of the last round of talks held in Colombo in May 2014.”
Jayalalithaa thanked Modi for his prompt action taken on her earlier letter on June 1, which led to the release of 33 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy.
“Owing to your immediate intervention, all the fishermen were promptly released without being subjected to prolonged detention,” she added.