Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Thursday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure the release of 20 fishermen and 137 boats, allegedly apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy. In a letter to Modi, he said only the retrieval of Katchatheevu islet will ensure restoration of peaceful pursuance of livelihood by the fishermen. ”It is reported that four fishermen from Jegathapattinam fishing base in Pudukottai district along with their mechanised boats were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday,” Palaniswami said in the letter.
The traditional and historical rights of fishermen are being denied consequent to the unconstitutional ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka, he said. Former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had challenged the legal validity of the Indo-Sri Lankan accords of 1974 and 1976. The Tamil Nadu government had subsequently impleaded itself in this case and hence the matter of the International Maritime Boundary Line with Sri Lanka is sub-judice, he said.
“I reiterate the stand that only the retrieval of Katchatheevu will ensure restoration of peaceful pursuance of livelihood by our fishermen,” the chief minister said. Long periods of impoundments of fishing boats would render them unworthy of sailing and it would push the life and livelihood propositions of Indian fishermen into misery, he said.
Palaniswami urged Modi to direct the External Affairs Ministry to urgently take up the issue with the highest authorities in Sri Lanka and secure the release of 20 fishermen from the state. He requested the prime minister to ask the Sirisena government to return all the fishing boats and gear in refurbished condition. On June 19, Palaniswami had appealed to Modi to take a strong diplomatic stand on the fishermen’s issue following the arrest of five fishermen from Rameswaram.