Take up this issue with Colombo, she tells Foreign Secretary, who is visiting the island

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday urged the Centre to view the attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy “as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to firing across the borders by neighbours such as Pakistan and China.”

During a meeting with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai here, she emphasised that the arrests and assault should be viewed not as an attack on Tamil fishermen but as an assault on Indian citizens.

Mr. Mathai, who called on the Chief Minister at the Secretariat on his way to Colombo, was told that this issue should be taken up with the Sri Lankan government. She also wanted him to take up with the Sri Lankan President the issue of resettling Sri Lankan Tamils, now living in camps, in their original places.

Ms. Jayalalithaa recalled the 16 incidents of apprehension and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen since May this year. Four fishermen were arrested on June 2 as they were stranded on the Sri Lankan coast; 23 fishermen were apprehended and five mechanised fishing boats seized on June 20; and a country boat was seized and 14 fishermen were arrested on July 4. She also recalled several incidents of harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Palk Bay by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Most of these incidents occurred in the sea off Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam districts. Sri Lankan miscreants/fishermen had in the past one month taken away implements and fish catches from the boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen, especially off the Nagapattinam coast, the Chief Minister said. “As the boats sailing out of Sri Lanka are under the close surveillance of the Sri Lankan Navy, there is every likelihood that these incidents took place with the knowledge of the Sri Lankan Navy.” Ms. Jayalalithaa conveyed the Tamil Nadu fishermen's fears that the miscreants who had threatened them might actually be Sri Lankan Navy personnel in the guise of fishermen. The apprehensions assumed significance in the light of the fact that the miscreants who attacked the Tamil Nadu fishermen were in small boats which could not carry enough diesel to ferry them long distances.

The Chief Minister suggested that Indian fishermen be allowed to enjoy their traditional rights of fishing around Katchatheevu and this issue also be taken up with Colombo.

H.V. Shringla, Joint Secretary (BSM), and Sanjeev Singla, Director, FSO., both from the Ministry of External Affairs, and Debendranath Sarangi, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, were present at the meeting.