Mar 05, Colombo: Expressing her "deep anguish and pain" over the continuing arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa asked the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "decisively" use all available diplomatic channels to get the fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan jails released.
In a letter to the PM today, Ms. Jayalalithaa, referring to the recent arrest of 32 Indian fishermen by the Navy for fishing in Sri Lanka's territorial waters, said the apprehension and incarceration of a large number of fishermen from Tamil Nadu and their fishing boats by the Sri Lankan Navy cause untold hardship to the fishermen and their families.
The CM recalled that she had facilitated holding direct talks between the fishermen communities of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka on 27 January in Chennai.
She pointed out that in order to carry forward the constructive process of talks between the fishermen associations of both countries, the next level of talks are scheduled to be held in Colombo on 13 March, subject to the condition that all fishermen from Tamil Nadu and their boats in Sri Lankan custody must be released prior to the talks.
Arresting the 32 fishermen when talks are slated to be held in a week has come a rude shock, she said.
"This harsh action of the Sri Lankan Navy against our innocent fishermen must be seen as a deliberate attempt to vitiate the atmosphere before the talks in Colombo slated for 13 March."
Sri Lanka Fisheries Ministry said the Indian fishermen were arrested for violating an agreement reached during the first round of talks between the fishermen of the two sides in January to stop bottom trawling.
She criticized the Indian government for being a "passive and mute spectator and not willing to understand and empathize with the sufferings of its own fishermen and their families."
The Chief Minister asked the Prime Minister to secure the immediate release of 153 fishermen who are languishing in Sri Lankan Jails including the 32 fishermen, who were apprehended on Monday and 39 fishing boats from Sri Lankan custody at the earliest.