Tamil Nadu chief minister EK Palaniswami has sought Centre’s intervention after Sri Lankan navy arrested 13 fishermen. The fishermen were arrested while fishing near Katchatheevu islet off Tamil Nadu.
In his letter to Prime Minister Modi, Palaniswami said the state government was “extremely” concerned over such incidents.
Such incidents of the arrest of “our fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy (should) be taken up strongly at the highest diplomatic level to ensure the safety and security of our fishermen in the Palk Bay,” he said.
“The Government of Tamil Nadu is extremely concerned about the continuing apprehension and detention of our fishermen and their boats,” Palaniswami added.
The CM noted that a total of 48 fishermen and 122 fishing boats were under Lankan custody. He also said raised concern about how the fishermen were “impounded” in Lanka as the boats and fishing gear are the their only means of their livelihood.
“Without their livelihood base, these fishermen are in a state of despondency. Though the Government of Sri Lanka committed to consider the release of these boats, no decision has been taken in this regard,” he said.
The chief minister urged the Centre to take up “this serious issue with the highest authorities of the Sri Lankan Government and ensure the immediate release of the precariously berthed boats which continue to suffer great damage with every passing day,” he added.
The Centre should secure immediate release of the 48 fishermen and 122 fishing boats, without any delay, he said.
The International Maritime Boundary Line with Sri Lanka “is itself a matter that is sub-judice in the Supreme Court of India,” Palaniswami said.
He recalled that how the late chief minister Jayalalithaa, as Opposition Leader in 2008, had filed a case in the apex court challenging the constitutional validity of the Indo-Lanka agreement on ceding Katchatheevu islet to the island republic.
Jayalalithaa had earlier repeatedly pointed out that Sri Lanka was following “a deliberate strategy of keeping the apprehended fishing boats of our fishermen in custody and thereby completely impairing their only source of livelihood,” the CM explained.
Palaniswami also made a pitch for a package worth Rs 1,650 crore for deep sea fishing for the fishermen.
(With inputs from PTI)