Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to help release the four Indian fishermen, who were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy earlier on Thursday.
“It has been reported that four Tamil Nadu fishermen along with their mechanised fishing boat from Kottaipattinam fishing base of Pudukottai District on 1.6.2016, have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of 2.6.2016 and taken to Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka,” she wrote.
Jayalalithaa said the Tamil Nadu government reiterated its stand that the Government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds in the Supreme Court.
“I have repeatedly brought to your kind attention, the Sri Lankan Government’s inhumane and cruel strategy of delaying the release of the boats and fishing gear of our fishermen which is causing great loss of livelihood to our fishermen and their families,” she added.
Pointing out that despite her repeated requests, the seized boats and gear belonging to the fishermen of Tamil Nadu had not been released by the Sri Lankan authorities so far once, Jayalalithaa once again requested that the fishing boats and gear of the Indian fishermen should immediately be released and restored to them in a refurbished condition as long periods of disuse would have caused severe damage to them.
“My government has taken many steps towards diversification of fishing activities in Palk Bay, so as to ensure better and alternative livelihood opportunities to the fishermen by providing subsidy assistance for purchasing deep sea tuna long liners etc,” she added.
Pointing out the comprehensive special package for deep sea fishing and infrastructure at a cost of Rs.1,520 crores and a recurring grant of Rs. 10 crores per annum for maintenance dredging which she had requested as part of the Memoranda presented to Prime Minister Modi on June 3, 2014 and August 7, 2015, Jayalalithaa urged the Prime Minister to sanction them.
“I request you to immediately direct the concerned officials in the Ministry of External Affairs to take urgent action to secure the release of 11 fishermen and 90 fishing boats including the 4 fishermen and their mechanised fishing boat apprehended on 2.6.2016 without any delay,” she said.
At least four Indian fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankan Coast Guard with assistance from the Navy on Thursday for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and fishing in Lankan waters.
The naval personnel arrested the fishermen along with an Indian fishing trawler on northwest of Delft Island, reports the Colombo Page.
This was the second time that Lankan Navy had arrested Indian fishermen from India’s southern Tamil Nadu state with mechanized boats after they resumed fishing at the end of its 45 day ban on fishing in the eastern coastal zone on Sunday midnight.
The Navy personnel on May 30 arrested seven fishermen along with a trawler while fishing in Lankan waters northwest of Thalaimannar. (ANI)