Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send a “firm message” to Sri Lanka over continued apprehension of the state’s fishermen and said a permanent solution would be in restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu islet. Citing reports of arrest of seven fishermen and seizure of their two mechanised fishing boats, Panneerselvam in a letter to the PM said the boats and fishermen were reportedly taken to Karainagar in Sri Lanka and were remanded in custody.
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The apprehension of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy continues “unabated” despite Indo-Sri Lankan fishermen level talks and Inter-Ministerial talks being held from time to time, he said. “It is the consistent stand of the government of Tamil Nadu that a permanent solution to this vexatious problem faced by our fishermen will be possible only by restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu by securing the right to fish in traditional waters,” he said.
The right of the fishermen is continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lankan’s Navy “recurrent” actions of apprehension, the Chief minister said. Demanding that the Centre send a firm message to Sri Lanka on the issue, he said 109 boats, including the two boats apprehended on Tuesday, should be released by the island nation. “The Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing boats of our fishermen is causing great frustration among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu. Without their livelihood base, fishermen are in a state of despondency,” he said.
Panneerselvam requested PM Modi to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with Sri Lankan authorities to ensure immediate release of 22 fishermen and 109 boats. The Chief Minister’s letter comes a day after he met PM Modi in New Delhi seeking Rs 22,573 crore for relief and restoration works in Chennai and neighbouring districts following the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah.