Agitated over the “increasing belligerence” of Sri Lankan Navy towards Indian fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa yesterday slammed the Centre for its “silence” and said this should not be construed as weakness and embolden Colombo.
“We are agitated by incidents of repeated capture of our fishermen while pursuing their livelihood. We expect the government of India to also respond and react pro-actively when incidents of this nature happen,” she said.
In a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, her third on the issue in about a fortnight, she said, “Let Sri Lanka not be emboldened by your silence and construe it as a sign of weakness and indifference towards our fishermen.”
Referring to the latest incident of capture of 53 fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy since yesterday, she said this was “another instance of the increasing intolerance of the Sri Lankan Navy towards the hapless fishermen of the Palk Bay area of Tamil Nadu”.
She noted that the solutions to the fishing disputes between two neighbours should not be resolved by force or by treating the fishermen as criminals and arresting them.
“The increasing belligerence of Sri Lanka in the recent past towards Indian fishing boats fishing in the traditional fishing areas, as exhibited by a spurt of arrests and violence, is a worrisome trend,” she said.
The fishermen, she said, had no other alternative but to fish in the narrow Palk Bay fishing grounds which were further restricted by the ‘unilateral’ drawal of International Maritime Boundary Line, and done without the consent of the Government of Tamil Nadu or its fishermen.
She said Centre should summon the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi to lodge India’s “strong protest” against the continuing arrests and incidents of violence against the fishermen, including the recent incident of firing on an innocent fisherman.
“I also request you to advise the Sri Lankan government to release the arrested fishermen of Rameswaram without foisting any criminal cases and desist from future provocations through needless arrests and acts of violence,” she said.
She also recalled her government’s case in the Supreme Court against the ceding of Katchatheevu, an islet, to Sri Lanka by India in the 1970s under an agreement. (The Week)