Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said a lasting solution to the problem of Tamil Nadu fishermen being frequently attacked and arrested by Sri Lankan Navy lies in the retrieval of Katchatheevu, to which India has a strong legal and historical claim.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, she said: “It is with a deep sense of anguish I write to you, again, regarding another incident, in which 11 Indian fishermen, along with three mechanised boats, have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy.”

These fishermen set out from Jagadhapattinam and Kottaipattinam in Pudukottai district. On June 23, they were apprehended and taken to Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said this incident occurred after one boat was seized and seven fishermen of Nagapattinam were arrested off the East Coast of Sri Lanka on June 19. They were still in custody. She also recalled her earlier letter about a similar incident on June 18, in which 46 fishermen were arrested and their 11 boats were seized. “As pointed out by me in my previous letters, a permanent solution to the issue lies in the retrieval of the Katchatheevu islet. The unconstitutional India-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976 should be nullified, and the traditional rights of fishermen in the Palk Bay restored,” she said.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements had been challenged on valid and legal grounds “by me in my personal capacity and also by the Government of Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court.”

She also pointed out that the Prime Minister’s immediate action on two previous occasions facilitated the release and repatriation of all fishermen. But their boats and fishing gear, essential for their livelihood, had not been released yet. Long periods of disuse would render the boats and equipment useless, and the fishermen would suffer a huge loss, she said.

The Chief Minister said Tamil Nadu favoured talks between the fishermen associations of the State and Sri Lanka to resolve the day-to-day issues and reminded Mr. Modi of her request made in the June 3 memorandum for a special package to diversify fisheries in the Palk Bay Area.

Hold talks: Karunanidhi

DMK president M. Karunanidhi has urged Mr. Modi to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government to find a permanent solution to the issue of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen.

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