Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday alleged that the “repressive Sri Lankan navy is establishing its authoritarian presence” in the Palk Bay by chasing and arresting unarmed fishermen from Tamil Nadu who offer no provocation.
“I am at a loss for words to convey my deepest anguish and frustration over the repeated apprehension and incarceration of a large number of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan navy,” she said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a copy of which was released to the media on Tuesday.
She said these continued oppressive acts had caused untold misery and hardships to the apprehended fishermen and their families.
She wanted the Prime Minister to personally intervene and use the diplomatic channels to secure the safe release of release of 250 fishermen languishing in Lankan jails.
Jayalalithaa said the Sri Lankan navy had not spared even the poorest fishermen who fish in traditional fishing boats called ‘vallams’ and eke out a meagre livelihood in their traditional fishing waters in the Palk Bay.
In the latest incident, five mechanised fishing boats, with 25 fishermen belonging to Ramanathapuram district set out to fish from Mandapam South fishing base on Thursday. While they were engaged in fishing in their traditional fishing waters in the Gulf of Mannar, they were apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy.
The chief minister accused the Central Government of being a mute spectator all along and not at all willing to understand the sufferings of Indian fishermen and their families and intervene effectively.