June 01, Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has resumed writing to the Indian Prime Minister seeking his intervention for the immediate release of the Tamil Nadu fishermen, arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for poaching in the island's territorial waters.
In her first letter to the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister asked the PM to take a "decisive action" to get the 33 Indian fishermen, arrested today by the Sri Lankan Navy, released.
Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday arrested 33 Indian fishermen seized their seven trawlers on two separate occasions for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary line and fishing in the country's waters.
The arrests come day after the Indian fishermen resumed their fishing activities after a 45-day ban on fishing in Palk Bay.
Writing to Mr. Modi "with a deep sense of anguish," the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said that there had been 76 incidents of arrests and 67 attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy in the past three years, and the letters she had written to the previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been to no avail.
Sri Lanka has however released all the fishermen arrested for poaching and detained in the country's jails as a pre-requisite for the talks between the fishermen of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu while India is still holding 85 Sri Lankan fishermen.
"This resumption of abductions and detentions has sent shock waves throughout the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu," Ms. Jayalalithaa wrote.
"There was an expectation that, with the change of Government at the Centre, there would be a reset in the relations with Sri Lanka and such attacks and apprehensions would cease," she said.
Blaming the ceding of Katchatheevu islet to Sri Lanka as the root cause of the fishermen's issue, she noted that the Tamil Nadu government had helped facilitate two rounds of fishermen-level talks to sort it out.
The second round of talks however ended in a deadlock as the Indian fishermen demanded to fish in Sri Lankan waters and the island nation's fishermen vehemently opposing the invasion and the Indians' destructive practice of bottom trawling.
The Chief Minister blamed the "meek and weak" response of the previous Indian government for "emboldening" the Sri Lankan Navy to act "brutally" against the fishermen of Tamil Nadu.
She expressed hope that the new NDA government would take a decisive stance on the sensitive issue.
"This would be in sharp contrast to the passive and immobile policy paralysis that characterized the approach of the UPA Government for several years. There is high expectation in Tamil Nadu that the new NDA led Government at the Centre would act decisively on this very sensitive issue," she wrote to Mr. Modi.
She requested the Indian PM to "proactively initiate an appropriate and calibrated set of actions," to achieve a permanent end to the "perennial" problem.
She urged the Prime Minister's personal intervention in the matter and requested him to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities in a "concrete and decisive manner" so as to secure the immediate release of 33 fishermen who were apprehended on 1st June, 2014, and their 7 fishing boats from Sri Lankan custody at the earliest.
"We hope that the firmness of India's response would ensure that such instances do not recur hereafter," Ms. Jayalalithaa added.