Terming the latest attack on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy as a “belligerent” act and an “aggressive posture”, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the matter personally at the highest level in the island nation to ensure “immediate de-escalation”.

Condemning the October 26 firing on the fishermen, who escaped unhurt while fishing near Danushkodi, she said “this belligerent act of Sri Lankan Navy is a sharp escalation of the actions of apprehension, detention and incarceration for long periods of time of innocent fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu”.

“This unwarranted, ruthless and inhuman attack on innocent fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu has caused immense outrage and frustration among the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu”, she said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

She urged Dr. Singh to “unequivocally” condemn this act of Sri Lankan Navy and demanded that he “take up the matter personally at the highest level in Sri Lanka in order to ensure an immediate de-escalation of the aggressive posture adopted by the Sri Lankan Navy.” Stating that the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar were traditional fishing waters of the fishermen of the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, she said the Centre must ensure their lives, avocations and fishing rights were protected.

She said the latest incident portrayed how the lives of the fishermen were in danger despite repeated assurances from the government of Sri Lanka and noted that the presence of Indian Navy and the Coast Guard had also not been a deterrent.

Noting that 75 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 35 boats were already in custody in Sri Lanka, she said, “this (latest) incident needs to be taken extremely seriously by you, Mr Prime Minister, before the situation further escalates and more innocent lives are lost”.

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