A Special Correspondent
In the wake of an attack on four Tamil Nadu fishermen on February 17 and the arrest of six others the following day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has written to Union External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, seeking his intervention for the early release of Tamil Nadu fishermen, their fishing boats and belongings from Sri Lankan custody.
“While I appreciate the efforts and support extended by the Ministry of External Affairs so far, I am constrained to note that such incidents have continued unabated,” Mr. Stalin said in his letter to the Union Minister. A copy of the letter was shared with the media.
There have been four such incidents of apprehension by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last 30 days, in which seven boats and 47 fishermen from Tamil Nadu were apprehended, the Chief Minister recalled.
“This creates fear among the entire fishing community who are dependent on their traditional fishing grounds in the Palk Bay area of Nagapattinam Coast. The physical attacks and robbing of fishing assets and the catch are totally against any law and deprive the fishermen of their livelihood,” Mr. Stalin contended.
He requested the Union Minister to take up this issue with the Sri Lankan government at the highest level to initiate bilateral talks between the two countries, “find a permanent solution to this long pending vexatious issue and to put in place functional mechanisms” to stop such incidents in future.
As on date, 29 fishermen and 82 fishing boats are under the custody of Sri Lankan government, he said, requesting the Union Minister’s urgent intervention for the early release of the remaining fishermen from Tamil Nadu and their belongings.
On February 17, four fishermen from Kodiyakarai Village, Nagapattinam District, who ventured out to fish were intercepted by a group of unidentified Sri Lankan nationals around 3.00 pm, while they were eight NM away from the Kodiyakarai coast.
“In this attack, they were robbed of their GPS, fish catch, fuel and two mobile phones,” the Chief Minister said. The following day, six Tamil Nadu fishermen, from Nambuthalai village in Ramanathapuram District who were out fishing in their motorised country craft, were arrested by Sri Lankan Navy and taken to Mylatti, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.