Slamming the Centre for remaining a “mute spectator” on the frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday said there was no concerted action on securing their release, the Hindu newspaper reported.
In her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa sought his immediate intervention through diplomatic channels to secure the release of all fishermen from Tamil Nadu who are in Sri Lankan custody.
“What we in Tamil Nadu read are just press statements that all efforts would be taken by the Government of India to ensure the early release of our fishermen but we fail to see any concerted action,” she said.
Her letter comes in the wake of the recent arrest of 35 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.
Recalling her previous letters sent to Mr. Singh, she said the government remains a “mute spectator. It leads us to doubt whether the issue is even taken as seriously by the Government of India as it ought to be.”
This very “muted response” has emboldened the Sri Lankan Navy to repeatedly arrest “our fishermen and their aggressive actions are worsening day by day,” she said.
She said fishermen community belong to the poorest section of society and prolonged periods of incarceration in an alien land lead to severe mental agony and loss of livelihood. The entire community is greatly exercised over the issue and in particular by the “apathy” shown by the government towards their cause, she said.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Centre has to take positive and concrete steps to secure the early release of the 82 fishermen who are already in Lankan jails for months, besides the 35 arrested recently. “The deep sense of frustration and anger among the fishermen community of Tamil Nadu against the Government of India will only mount further,” she said.
She urged Mr. Singh to take immediate action through diplomatic channels to secure the release of all the fishermen from Tamil Nadu along with their boats and arrange for their immediate repatriation.