Chennai: Chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the External Affairs minister to secure the immediate release of 57 fishermen and 98 fishing boats in Sri Lankan custody, including the 23 fishermen and their three fishing boats apprehended on July 4 and 5.
"I am constrained to write to you yet again to bring to your notice two more incidents of apprehension of innocent Indian fishermen belonging to the state by the Sri Lankan Navy. It is reported that six fishermen in their traditional fishing boat who set sail from Pamban fishing base in Ramanathapuram District have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on Monday and taken to Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka. In yet another incident, two boats from Nagapattinam District with 17 fishermen were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on Tuesday and have been taken to Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka," she said in a letter to Modi.
Pointing to the ceding away of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka by the Indian government in 1976 and the case filed by her challenging it, she said that the state government has taken a stand that the International Maritime Boundary line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka cannot be treated as settled as the matter is sub judice. "I reiterate that only the retrieval of Katchatheevu will ensure the restoration of the peaceful pursuit of their traditional livelihood by our fishermen in the Palk Bay," she noted.
Requesting the Centre to impress upon the Lankan government to immediately release the 95 fishing boats of the state fishermen already in their custody, she said, "I once again seek your urgent directions to the Ministry of External Affairs to initiate earnest efforts to find a permanent and pragmatic solution to this livelihood issue of our fishermen."