Charging Sri Lankan navy with acting with “greater impunity” against Indian fishermen from the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalalithaa said the island’s navy has intensified its “hostile action” after the Indo-Lankan fishermen level talks here.
Taking up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the latest instance of arrest of 29 fishermen, she said the Lankan navy “is now acting with greater impunity and effectively thwarting Indian fishermen coming from the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu from peacefully pursuing their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters in the Palk Bay.”
There was an anxiety among fishermen about possible attacks and harassment besides apprehension every time they set out for their vocation, she said in a letter to Singh dated February 14 which was released today by the government.
“It is extremely disheartening that hostile actions have been intensified by the Sri Lankan Navy after the recent fishermen level talks hosted in Chennai, which represented a positive step forward to resolve the livelihood issues through mutual agreement, between the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka with the support of their Governments,” she said.
Fishermen of Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts were left at the “mercy of the marauding Sri Lankan Navy primarily due to the ill-advised 1974 and 1976 Agreements of the Government of India,” she said, referring to India’s ceding of Katchatheevu islet to Colombo.
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“These agreements have not only snatched away the livelihood of our fishermen but also the sovereign territory of India-Katchatheevu. The Government of India is yet again treating the livelihood issue of lakhs of fishermen of Tamil Nadu with inexplicable insensitivity,” she said.
She alleged that strong diplomatic action was not being taken by the Government to curb such repeated instances of attack, apprehension and unlawful detention of fishermen.
A total of 121 fishermen including the 29 arrested on February 13 were now languishing in Sri Lankan jails, she said and sought Singh’s personal intervention to ensure that the matter was taken up at the highest diplomatic level for their immediate release besides that of 26 fishing boats.