With 78 fishermen from Tamil Nadu in Sri Lankan custody, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to place the fishermen issue at the top of agenda in any interaction with Sri Lanka.
In her letter to Mr. Modi on Tuesday following the arrest of 24 fishermen in four boats from Rameswaram on Monday, the Chief Minister said she had hoped after the change of regime in Sri Lanka there would be a positive change in the hostile environment created for the fishermen from Tamil Nadu.
“Unfortunately, incidents of apprehension of Tamil Nadu fishermen show no signs of abating and continue with painful regularity. Such incidents inflict huge misery and hardship on the fishermen community,” she said.
Despite taking up the matter with the Prime Minister himself, there has been no concrete action and fishermen were suffering prolonged incarceration in Sri Lankan jails. This was an unacceptable situation, which has to be remedied through a set of comprehensive measures, including securing the immediate release of fishermen in custody, Ms. Jayalalithaa said.
The issue of harassment and frequent arrests of Tamil Nadu fishermen was an abrogation of their traditional fishing rights in their traditional fishing areas. It was a livelihood issue of thousands of fisherfolk and was taking a huge social and political dimension.
“India can’t continue to be seen as a mute spectator as the rights of the fishermen are repeatedly infringed upon. The issue thus requires urgent intervention not merely at a diplomatic level but also at the highest political level,” the Chief Minister said. (Hindu)