Karunanidhi slams Center on Lanka

India’s DMK leader M. Karunanidhi urged the Indian Central government to emulate former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in taking strong action to stop the attacks on Tamil Nadu’s fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Express News reported today.

Pointing out that the Centre had so far ignored the calls from the Tamil Nadu government and all political parties in the State on the matter, Karunanidhi said the Centre’s failure to act would only clarify and confirm that the Indian government had no concern for the plight of Tamil Nadu’s fishermen.

Karunanidhi’s statement to this effect was framed against the decision of a Sri Lankan court to extend the remand of 30 fishermen from Rameshwaram, who have been held at Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapuram prison since April 6. The court had earlier given its first extension of the remand from April 18 till April 26. Now, the second extension would hold good till May 6. He also noted that the remand of 26 fishermen from Karaikal had been extended till May 29.

“The Centre must secure the release of the fishermen immediately. All political parties in Tamil Nadu have constantly urged the Centre to prevent such attacks and arrests. The Tamil Nadu government also takes up the matter every time such an incident occurs.

The Centre cannot consider its duty done just by taking it up with Sri Lanka or by making assurances in Parliament or issuing statements. It has to realise that all the steps it has taken have failed to stop the attacks,” said Karunanidhi.

“All of Tamil Nadu expects the Centre to devote to Tamil Nadu’s fishermen at least one percent of the concern it showed when two fishermen from Kerala were shot by Italian marines,” he added.

Karunanidhi recalled an incident from the time Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister, and said she had been angered by a Sri Lankan captain who was attacking Tamil Nadu’s fishermen. The Indian Navy had captured the captain on Indira Gandhi’s orders and had jailed him in Mandapam. Karunanidhi asked the Centre to follow Indira Gandhi’s lead in releasing the captain only after he and his crew had tendered an apology.

“If the Centre tarries any further in this matter, it would only confirm and clarify that the Indian government has no concern for the plight and safety of Tamil Nadu’s fishermen,” said Karunanidhi.