Sept 29, Chennai: The Chief Minister of India's Tamil Nadu state J. Jayalalithaa accusing the central Indian government of abandoning the "defenceless" fishermen asked the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put pressure on Sri Lanka through diplomatic channels to get the fishermen released from Sri Lankan jails.
In another letter to the Prime Minister the Chief Minister said India should show "greater fortitude and firmness" to stop the Sri Lankan Navy arresting the Tamil Nadu fishermen venturing into Sri Lanka's territorial waters for poaching.
"Unless the Government of India displays greater fortitude and firmness and acts with alacrity through diplomatic channels to put pressure on Sri Lanka, there appears to be little chance of securing the prompt release of our fishermen or to avert such instances in future," the Chief Minister said.
Jayalalithaa said the Indian government has "virtually abandoned its poor and defenceless fishermen to face an uncertain future caused by the risk of daily attacks and abduction at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy."
She questioned whether the Sri Lankan Government is at all serious in engaging with the Indian government resolve this question.
Referring to her earlier letter on September 22, in which she asked the PM to facilitate fishermen level talks between the two sides, the Chief Minister said, she is distressed to see that soon after her letter the Sri Lankan Navy arrested another 20 Indian fishermen of Rameshwaram fishing base.
They have been remanded in custody up to Oct 7 and lodged in a jail in Vavuniya, she said.
According to the Chief Minister, 136 Tamil Nadu fishermen and 29 boats of them are in Sri Lankan custody.
"Unless the government of India takes positive and concrete steps to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to rein in their Navy to desist from these hostile attacks and take action to secure the release of these fishermen, there seems to be no scope for the peaceful existence and assured livelihood of Tamil Nadu's fishermen," she said.
Sri Lanka says Indian fishermen, taking advantage of Sri Lanka's procedure of releasing them after mediation by the Indian High Commission office, are deliberately indulge in illegal fishing.
Sri Lanka Navy is instructed to arrest the trespassing Tamil Nadu fishermen until a permanent solution to the problem is reached through bilateral discussions.
To deter the invading fishermen in future the Sri Lankan government has recently adopted a new policy of detaining Indian fishermen arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters for a long time and confiscating their boats to deter the Indian fishermen from trespassing into Sri Lankan waters.