Mar 04, Chennai: The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa has sought Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's help to get 16 Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy for trespassing into Sri Lankan waters released.
Ina letter written to the PM today, the Chief Minister asked the PM to take urgent action to urge the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately release the 16 fishermen with their 3 boats without filing any cases against them.
Sri Lanka Navy arrested the 16 Indian fishermen and seized their three trawlers Sunday (March 03) for violating the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and trespassing into Sri Lankan waters off Kalpitiya in the northwest.
The fishermen have been produced before the courts after they were handed over to the Kalpitiya police for further investigations.
"I am pained to point out that the incidents of apprehension and harassment of innocent Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy have become a regular occurrence in the past few months creating a feeling of insecurity and fear amongst the fishermen community," the CM wrote in her letter to Singh.
She further said that the families of the arrested 16 fishermen and various Fishermen Associations have appealed to the Tamil Nadu Government to secure their early release since they were only pursuing their livelihood in the Gulf of Mannar area, where they have been fishing all along.
"The Sri Lankan Government has always assured us in various bilateral meetings that Indian fishermen who are apprehended while fishing will be released expeditiously without prolonged legal hurdles," she pointed out.
Indian fishermen, mainly from Tamil Nadu, illegally poaching in large scale with trawlers in Sri Lanka's waters, have become a serious threat to the livelihoods of Sri Lankan fishermen and they have urged the Sri Lankan authorities to prevent the Indian fishermen from stealing their livelihood.
Sri Lanka Navy says it assists the fishing industry and apprehends the poachers in order to prevent exploitation of the country's fishing resources and harms inflicted on its marine life.