Seeking the Prime Minister’s intervention to secure the release of 77 fishermen and 102 boats from Sri Lankan custody, Tamil Nadu government informed the Centre that the “SL Navy has escalated the frequency and magnitude of incidents of abduction” of Indian fishers from the state.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said, “The Sri Lankan government continues to infringe upon the historically enjoyed rights of our fishermen to fish in the traditional waters of the Palk Bay.”
“The Sri Lankan Navy has escalated the frequency and magnitude of incidents of abduction of our fishermen and seizure of boats and fishing equipment undeterred in recent days,” she said in the letter released by the state government on Sunday.
She said four Tamil Nadu fishermen, along with their motorised fishing boat, who set out for fishing from Pamban in Ramanathapuram district, were apprehended by the Lankan Navy on July 15 and taken to Thalaimannar in that country.
She also faulted Colombo for not releasing the fishing boats, saying this was causing ‘great frustration’ among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu.
“Without their livelihood base, these fishermen are in a state of despondency.”
“I urge you to take up this matter with the highest authorities of the Sri Lankan government through our High Commission in Sri Lanka and ensure the immediate release of the precariously berthed boats which continue to suffer great damage.
“I request your urgent directions to the Ministry of External Affairs to initiate earnest efforts to take up this matter with the concerned authorities in Sri Lanka and bring an immediate halt to the apprehensions at high seas and secure the immediate release of (a total of) our 77 fishermen and their 102 fishing boats,” she said.
Jayalalithaa reiterated that the position of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka “itself is a matter which is sub-judice” in the Supreme Court of India.
She recalled that she had challenged, in her personal capacity, the constitutional validity of ceding of Katchatheevu islet through the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976, adding that the state government had subsequently impleaded itself in the case.
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