Ramadass seeks Sushma’s help to free 18 fishermen in Sri Lanka

Former Indian Parliamentarian M. Ramadass has sought the urgent intervention of Indian Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in securing the release of 18 fishermen from Karaikal region who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy recently, The Hindu newspaper reported.

Ramadass said the latest episode in the serial arrests, seizures and attacks of Sri Lankan Navy on the Tamil Nadu and Karaikal fishermen straying into sea waters near the International Maritime Boundary Line ( IBML), related to the capture of 18 fishermen belonging to Kottucherrimedu and Kilinjalmedu of Karaikal region of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The fishermen were venturing into the sea in three mechanised vessels on April 4 when the Sri Lankan Navy barged into their vessels in the Indian sea water, near Kodiakkarai, arrested all of them, seized their boats and kept them in captive custody in Kangesan Military camp, Ramadass said.

Terming it as “an unjust and unlawful act on the part of the Sri Lankan Navy violating all norms of propriety and human rights”, the former MP said the arrests had dealt a severe blow and shattered the psyche and morale of the fishermen besides depriving them of livelihood opportunities.

Ramadass pointed out that these atrocities had been continuing in spite of several good faith bilateral initiatives by India and Sri Lanka, including the constitution of a Joint Working Group, to monitor the issue.

According to him, the Sri Lankan Navy “tends to forget the fact that IMBL itself is sub judice in the context of Indo-Sri Lankan Accords of 1974 and 1976 having been legally challenged and the Government of Tamil Nadu has impleaded in the case”.

The Sri Lankan Navy could not intrude into the legitimate fishing activities of Tamil Nadu fishermen on the ground that they were nearer IMB “It is in this backdrop that we consider the retrieval of Katchatheevu alone can bring peace to fishermen and a permanent solution to the long vexed issue,” Ramadass added. (Colombo Gazette)

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