The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, on Tuesday demanded firm diplomatic action from the Centre to stop the frequent attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.
The Sri Lankan envoy in New Delhi should be summoned to lodge India’s strong protest against the attacks.
Replying to a special mention by Opposition members in the Assembly, Ms. Jayalalithaa said attacks on fishermen continued unabated due to the inability of the Union government, which, perhaps, considered Tamil Nadu fishermen as those from outside India.
While reiterating her demand for abrogation of the maritime boundary agreement between India and Sri Lanka in 1974, under which Kachatheevu fell on the Sri Lankan side, she pointed out that though the treaty ensured that the two nations could exercise their traditional rights in their maritime boundaries, Sri Lankan Navy’s attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen were on the rise. Despite her repeated pleas to the Prime Minister since 1991 for retrieval of Kachatheevu or, as a minimum measure, lease in perpetuity to get fishing rights for the State’s fishermen, no action had been initiated so far.
Accusing former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi of failing to bring pressure on the union government to retrieve Kachatheevu, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the former Chief Minister forgot the issue after he came back to power in 2006. However, he had passed a resolution in the TESO conference on August 12, 2012, for regaining control of Kachatheevu by India and creating a naval base either in Dhanushkodi or Mandapam Camp.
Expressing concern over four incidents of attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last one month, she said Kachatheevu should be annexed with India if a permanent solution was to be found to the fishermen issue.
She had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2008 seeking to declare the Kachatheevu treaty as null and void and the State’s Revenue Department had been included as a party in it.
A petition for expeditious hearing of the case had been filed in 2012, Ms. Jayalalithaa said and expressed confidence that she would be able to find a permanent solution through legal means to the fishermen issue also, as in the Cauvery river water dispute.
Earlier, speaking on the motion, ‘Anitha’ R. Radhakrishnan of the DMK said an atmosphere should be created for Tamil Nadu fishermen to continue with their occupation without fear.
P. Mahalingam of CPI (M) drew the attention of the House to the tension and fear stalking the fishermen community in Nagapattinam. K. Ulaganathan of CPI called for firm steps from the Centre to stop the attacks.
A. Ganeshkumar of PMK appealed to the State government to initiate action against the attacks using the Coastal Security Group as no action was forthcoming from the Centre.
M. H. Jawahirullah of the MMK described fishing as the most hazardous job in Tamil Nadu today.