Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha on Tuesday approached the apex court pleading for the expeditious hearing of her petition on the cessation of Kachatheevu island to Sri Lanka following an agreement in June, 1974.
She sought the agreement to be declared “unconstitutional and non-est”. In an application, the AIADMK leader pointed out that 38 incidents of harassment and 23 cases of apprehension involving 379 fishermen since May last year by the Sri Lankan Navy.
She sought early hearing of her petition on which a notice was issued to the Centre by the apex court on January 5, 2009.
The petition sought direction to the Union government to take all measures to protect the life and livelihood of the Indian fishermen carrying fishing activity around Kachatheevu island by way of patrolling and other security measures.
“The writ petition has set out the hardships, misery, suffering and the violation of the fundamental rights of the Indian fishermen by the reason of the restriction in their fishing operations pursuant to the agreement,” the application said. “A large number of fishermen have been killed by Sri Lankan Navy in this area.
Several hundreds have been arrested for no reason whatsoever and have suffered in Sri Lankan jails. Crores of rupees worth high value catch made by poor fishermen after hours of toil have been destroyed along with boats and equipments including fishing nets,” it alleged.
Jayalalitha shot off as many as 11 letters to the prime minister since May, 2011 after assuming the charge as chief minister, the application claimed.
Kachatheevu is a small, barren and uninhibited island of about 285 acres in the Palk Strait off Rameswaram, a part of Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu.
According to her, Indian fishermen were enjoying traditional fishing rights in and around the island prior to the execution of the agreement between India and Sri Lanka in 1974.
The deal signed without consulting the Tamil Nadu was the main reason for continued harassment and attack on fishermen, Jayalalitha’s plea said. (Deccan Herald)