Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to approach the Sri Lankan government and obtain the release of four Tamil Nadu fishermen languishing in police custody there.

In a suo motu statement in the Assembly, Ms. Jayalalithaa said that she had written to Dr. Singh about the plight of the fishermen from Rameswaram, who were caught in inclement weather and heavy winds on June 2. As their boat capsized, they swam for about eight hours to reach the coast of Nainatheevu in Sri Lanka.

They surrendered before an army check post and were handed over to the Kayts police on June 3.

They were remanded to police custody till June 17 by court. The families of these fishermen and various fishermen associations had appealed to the State government for their early release.

The government was also in constant touch with the Sri Lankan High Commission for their early release.

Hence she wanted the Prime Minister to ensure that the Sri Lankan government released these fishermen without any further delay.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that the State government as well as the fishermen would be grateful if they were released immediately as a gesture of goodwill by Sri Lanka, which had said at various bilateral meetings that Indian fishermen straying inadvertently into Sri Lankan waters would be released expeditiously without prolonged legal hurdles.