Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing to impress upon Sri Lanka not to arrest Indian fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters.
Over 50 Indian fishermen were arrested over the weekend and have been remanded by court after they were caught poaching in Sri Lankan waters in two separate incidents.
The Indian media quoted Jayalalithaa as demanding for their release and warning that such incidents could escalate the tension between the two countries, besides creating “unrest” amongst the fishermen community.
“I am deeply anguished to bring to your notice the repeated onslaughts of the Sri Lankan Navy on innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen who eke out their livelihood by fishing in their traditional fishing grounds in the Indian Ocean,” Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Singh.
Referring to the arrest of 30 fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy yesterday and the subsequent outcry it has generated, she urged Singh to impress upon that country’s government to take effective steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents of arrest or harassment of the state’s fishermen in the future.
Jayalalithaa, who sought to link the increased instances of arrest of fishermen from her state to the escalated protests in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, alleged that the neighbouring country has now resorted to such arrests and holding the fishers in its jails.
“Nineteen fishermen of Rameswaram have been in judicial custody in Sri Lanka since March 13, apart from five, languishing in jails there since more than a year and yet another incident of arrest of 30 fishermen has taken place yesterday,” the Chief Minister said in her letter, the copies of which were released to the Indian media last night.
“I also wish to reiterate that the acts of arrest and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen should be viewed as acts of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka,” she added.