Seeking “immediate and effective personal intervention” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for release of Tamil Nadu fishermen lodged in Sri Lankan prisons, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa accused the Centre of being a mute spectator to the issue.

In a letter to Dr. Singh on Wednesday, Ms. Jayalalithaa said even as 82 fishermen from the State were languishing in jails there, 35 fishermen from the Pamban area in Ramanathapuram district were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy on August 26. They had set out for fishing from the Pamban (South) fishing base the previous day by four mechanised boats. “It is reported that they have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy and taken to Kalpitiya police station for further action,” she said in the letter, details of which were released to media on Thursday.

Noting that despite her repeated letters, “what we in Tamil Nadu read are just press statements that all efforts would be taken by the Government of India to ensure the early release of our fishermen but we fail to see any concerted action.” The “muted response” of the Centre, she added, had emboldened the Sri Lankan Navy to repeatedly arrest the fishermen and their aggressive actions were worsening.

She urged Dr. Singh to take immediate action through diplomatic channels to secure the release of the fishermen along with their boats and arrange for their immediate repatriation. The fishing community in Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, was greatly exercised over this issue and in particular by the apathy shown by the Centre towards their cause.

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