Angry Jaya slams Centre’s ‘inadequate response’ over arrested fishermen

Chennai, Mar. 14 (ANI): After writing several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action in the repeated arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in a fresh letter has slammed the Centre’s inadequate response in the matter, saying it has emboldened the Lankan navy to harass Tamil fishermen.

“Inadequate response of the Union Government on such incidents of apprehension and detention of our fishermen has emboldened the Sri Lankan Navy to harass the Tamil Nadu Fishermen while exercising their livelihood rights to fish in their traditional waters of the Palk Bay,” the letter states.

The Chief Minister briefed the Prime Minister in the letter on all the recent incidents of fishermen being arrested and apprehended and asserted that she has been writing repeatedly seeking strong diplomatic action to ensure that such incidents do not occur and to secure the immediate release of the fishermen and their boats in

Sri Lankan custody.

“The prolonged detention and disuse of these boats and the onslaught of the severe monsoon have caused irreparable damage to them. I reiterate that the fishing boats and gear should be restored in a refurbished condition to the fishermen at the earliest,” Jaya said.

Stating that the continuous detention of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy is causing a deep sense of anger amongst the fishermen community, she added that their right to livelihood of fishing in their traditional waters of the Palk Bay is being infringed upon repeatedly by Sri Lanka.

“The position of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) itself is a matter which is sub judice in the Supreme Court of India as the constitutional validity of the Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 has been challenged,” the letter states.

Hoping that that there will now be a decisive shift in the stance of the Centre towards handling the matter, Jayalalithaa said that the government should now find a lasting and permanent solution to this ‘long pending and highly emotive issue which also carries grave security implications for Tamil Nadu’.

“I request you to put in place a strong and robust diplomatic response registering India’s disapproval in the strongest possible terms of the belligerent actions of the Sri Lankan Navy. I request you to direct the concerned officials in the ministry of External Affairs to take concrete action through diplomatic channels to secure the immediate release of our 96 fishermen and 82 fishing boats including the 28 fishermen and their 4 fishing boats apprehended May I look forward to early action? ” the letter concludes.

In view of frequent arrests by Lanka for crossing maritime boundary, Indian fishermen have demanded the immediate repair of a navigation tower at the Gulf of Mannar which would help them remain in their waters.

A number of Indian fishermen have been held by Sri Lanka over the years for allegedly trespassing into its territorial waters. Navigational towers assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation. (ANI)

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