The State has articulated this stand in a written response to Raja Sekhar Vundru, Joint Secretary (Fisheries) of the Union government and chairperson of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Committee on Fisheries, at the first meeting of the committee in New Delhi on Friday.
The government also renewed its call that fishermen fishing in the Palk Bay should not be apprehended, harassed or attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy. In the event of their arrest, they should be immediately released along with their boats.
Seeking the release of five fishermen and their boat, the government said the fishermen, lodged in Sri Lankan jails in connection with narcotic cases since 2011, were innocent, and the cases were foisted on them.
Reiterating its commitment to the restoration of the traditional fishing rights of fishermen in the Palk Bay, the State again demanded the retrieval of Katchatheevu, which “had been an integral part of India since time immemorial.”
Also, the State urged the Centre not to treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question, as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements had been challenged by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in her personal capacity and also by the Tamil Nadu government in the Supreme Court. Tamil Nadu also urged the Centre to clear the Rs.1,475-crore aid, sought by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, for developing harbours at Mookaiyur and Rameswaram and buying deep-sea tuna long-liners, among other plans.
The State was represented by Fisheries Secretary S. Vijayakumar. (The Hindu)