Raising the fishermen’s issue with the Centre once again, the Tamil Nadu government has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in securing the release of 25 fishermen and 119 fishing boats from Sri Lankan custody, the Press Trust of India reported.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, while taking up the latest instance of arrest of five fishermen from Puthukottai, told Modi in a letter that Lankan authorities “continue to infringe upon the historical rights enjoyed by our fishermen to fish in their traditional waters of Palk Bay.”
The letter, dated February 2, 2017, was released by the state government today.
The Chief Minister said the Sri Lankan authorities have not released any of the fishing boats that had been apprehended by them since February 2015.
“With their sole means of livelihood taken away, the Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu are in a despondent state. Presently there are 119 boats in Sri Lankan custody, which are precariously berthed on the Sri Lankan shore,” he said.
“Though the government of Sri Lanka committed to consider the release of the boats in the Ministerial-level meeting held in Colombo on January 2, 2017, no action has been taken as yet in this regard,” he added.
Panneerselvam told the PM that India should take up the matter with the Lankan authorities and ensure the immediate release of the boats and restore them in refurbished condition to the fishermen for their immediate use.
He requested Modi to instruct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the issue “effectively” with Sri Lanka and to secure the release of 25 fishermen and 119 fishing boats, including the five fishermen and their mechanised fishing boat apprehended on February 2, without any delay.
The Chief Minister also recalled that his predecessor, the late J Jayalalithaa, had moved the Supreme Court against ceding of Katchatheevu islet to Sri Lanka by India by way of an agreement in 1974.
He also reminded the PM of the state government’s demand for a deep-sea fishing package of Rs. 1,650 crore. (Colombo Gazette)