Even as India was in talks with Sri Lanka about the arrest of a group of fishermen Wednesday,the Lankan Navy arrested 34 more fishermen on Thursday,triggering protests by DMK and AIADMK members in Parliament. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa also sent an angry letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.
About 3,000 fishermen had gone to sea from various parts of Rameswaram yesterday. In the afternoon,19 fishermen from Thangachimadam were arrested by the Lankan Navy,reportedly from near Katchatheevu. They were charged with fishing in the Lankan waters and taken to Neduntheevu police station. While the authorities in Delhi were taking steps to release them,information came that 34 more had been arrested by Lanka,reportedly from near the islet of Delft in the northern Jaffna district. In all,nine fishing boats were seized.
The External Affairs ministry summoned the Sri Lankan deputy high commissioner. The MEA spokesperson said in Delhi that India has sought consular access to the arrested fishermen.
The issue figured in both houses of Parliament Thursday with DMKs T K S Elangovan,AIADMKs M Thambidurai and V Maitreyan charging the Centre of not protecting the fishermen.
In Chennai,Jaya sent a letter to the PM,seeking his urgent intervention to secure the fishermens release and prevent future provocations. Sri Lankas increasing belligerence… towards the Indian fishing boats,as exhibited by a spurt of arrests and violence,is a worrisome trend,she said,urging the Centre to respond and react proactively.