TN Fishermen’s arrest: Jaya writes to PM

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his personal intervention for release of four Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan navy, besides release of 103 boats.

In the latest incident, four fishermen in a mechanised fishing boat, who had set sail from Jegathapattinam fishing base in Pudukkottai district, had been arrested by the Lankan Navy on Monday, the Chief Minister said in her letter dated August 9, which was released today.

This recent act of the Sri Lankan Navy has again created anxiety and unrest in the minds of the fishermen, she said.

A “firm, clear, unequivocal and unambiguous” message should be sent out by Indian government to Sri Lanka to ensure that these arrests are stopped and “the livelihood of the poor and innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu who are engaged in fishing in their traditional waters is protected,” she said.

Colombo’s strategy of not releasing the boats was causing “great frustration amongst” the fishermen of Tamil Nadu, she added.

“Without their livelihood base, these fishermen are in a state of despondency. I urge you to take this up with the highest authorities of the Sri Lankan government and ensure the immediate release of the precariously berthed boats which continue to suffer great damage,” she said.

The Indian Government “must take necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of our fishermen. I request your personal intervention to secure the release of the fishermen and 103 fishing boats currently in Sri Lankan custody at the earliest,” Jayalalithaa said.

The chief Minister reiterated that retrieving Katchatheevu islet from Sri Lanka and abrogation of the 1974 and 1976 agreements alone could restore the traditional fishing grounds of the Palk Bay to the state’s fishermen.

Jayalalithaa also reminded the Prime Minister of her demand for a deep sea fishing and infrastructure package of Rs 1,520 crore.