Sept 13, Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa while condemning the Sri Lankan government's new policy of detaining Indian fishermen arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters and impounding their boats, urged the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally intervene to get the fishermen and the boats released.
In yet another letter to the PM, the Chief Minister said the Sri Lankan Government's "cold, calculated, unethical attitude" needs to be condemned in the strongest terms.
Her letter comes in the wake of a Sri Lankan court decision to further remand 31 fishermen from Tamil Nadu arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on July 31 till September 27.
The Chief Minister said with the new policy the Sri Lankan government has made it clear that it is not ready to allow the Tamil Nadu fishermen to earn their livelihood by fishing in what she claimed as their traditional waters.
The Tamil Nadu government refuses to accept Sri Lanka's sovereign rights on the disputed island of Kachchativu and the territorial waters around the island in Palk Bay where the Sri Lankan Navy arrests the continually invading Indian fishermen.
Jayalalithaa slammed the Indian government for allowing the fishermen to languish in Sri Lanka's jails for a long time and then being deported. A Sri Lankan court recently ordered to deport 21 fishermen who pleaded guilty in the courts for trespassing.
"This harassment of innocent fishermen being deported like criminals could have been averted if the Government of India had taken up their cause effectively through diplomatic channels," the Chief Minister said.
According to Jayalalithaa, there are still 97 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested on different dates languishing in jails in Sri Lanka and 21 fishermen are going through the process of deportation and are yet to return home while 20 boats belonging to Tamil Nadu fishermen have also not been released by the Sri Lankan Government.
The Chief Minister asked the Prime Minister take up the matter with the Sri Lankan Government and arrange for the immediate release of all the 97 fishermen of Tamil Nadu now in Sri Lanka's custody, along with their boats.
Stressing that early decisive action by the Government of India is very essential and cannot be postponed indefinitely, the Chief Minister asked the PM to "intervene personally and ensure that the matter is taken up in the most forceful diplomatic manner possible," to get the fishermen and the boats released.