The day when India’s agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and Sri Lanka fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera and foreign minister Mangala Samarweera are meeting in Colombo to solve the disputes between the fishermen of both countries, chief minister O Panneerselvam on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to release 52 Tamil Nadu fishermen who are in Sri Lankan prisons. He also urged Modi’s intervention for the release of more than 100 Indian fishing boats that are in Sri Lankan custody, the Times of India reported.
In a letter to Modi, the chief minister said, “I write with a sense of deep anguish at the very unfortunate and needlessly provocative remarks of Amaraweera, reported in a section of the media, indicating that the fishing boats and gear of fishermen of Tamil Nadu which are in the custody of the Sri Lankan authorities, would be taken over and made the property of the government of Sri Lanka.”
“I understand that a similar statement has also been made by the Sri Lankan Northern Province minister for fisheries and rural development, Balasubramaniam Deniswaran,” he said.
This was an unfortunate development coming at a time when the India-Sri Lanka joint working group on fisheries met in New Delhi on December 31, 2016 and was due to meet again on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting in Colombo today, Panneerselvam said.
“As you are aware, there are as on date 114 fishing boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan custody and our revered leader Amma had also repeatedly urged the Government of India to prevail upon the Government of Sri Lanka to release all the apprehended boats which are in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities,” he said.
“Such unfortunate and provocative statements are clearly veiled threats to intimidate our fishermen from exercising their traditional fishing rights in the Palk Bay which they have done for centuries. Such statements appear to mock the diplomatic efforts being undertaken by the Government of India to sort out the sensitive issue. I strongly urge the Government of India to register its disapproval of such remarks in the strongest possible terms at the appropriate level,” the chief minister said. (Colombo Gazette)