July 07, Chennai: In a second letter within a week, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has urged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action to secure the release of all 37 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for poaching in the island's territorial waters.
Reporting the "unlawful apprehension" of 20 Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lanka Navy on Friday (July 05) to the PM, the Chief Minister said the right of livelihood of the fishermen who historically and traditionally fish in the Palk Bay is continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lankan Navy.
While thanking the PM for the release of 184 fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, the Chief Minister complained that the Sri Lankan government has impounded the fishermen's boats and fishing gear.
"The Sri Lankan Government appears to be adopting a callous and deliberate strategy to ensure destruction of the boats and gear which are the primary means of livelihood of our fishermen," the Chief Minister wrote.
Explaining that the long duration of impoundment and lack of care would render the fishing boats and gear unusable and worthless, the CM accused that the strategy is designed to directly deprive fishermen of their livelihood.
Reiterating that the issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and Katchatheevu cannot be treated as a settled issue, the Chief Minister said only the retrieval of Katchatheevu will ensure the restoration of safety and security of the fishermen’s livelihood in the "traditional waters" of Palk Bay.
"The historical rights were simply signed away as part of the ill-advised Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 which also unilaterally ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without having any foresight or concern for the plight of our innocent fishermen."
Ms. Jayalalithaa asked the Indian Government to "impress upon the Sri Lankan Government to rein in their Navy and to refrain from apprehending our innocent fishermen who are in peaceful pursuit of their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters."
She called on the Prime Minister to immediately intervene to secure the release of the 37 fishermen and 45 fishing boats currently in Sri Lankan custody including the 20 fishermen and 4 fishing boats, apprehended on July 05.