Terms recent incident “distressing,” in letter to Manmohan

Attacks on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy should be viewed as a national issue and not an isolated problem of Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa stated in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

It was sent in the wake of reports of the Sri Lankan Navy chasing away Tamil fishermen by firing in the air, off Mandapam coast in Ramanathapuram district on October 8.

The incident happened the same day Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai called on Ms. Jayalalithaa on his way to Colombo.

She described as “distressing,” that the attack took place even before the Foreign Secretary reached Colombo.

She had brought to Mr. Mathai's notice various incidents and attacks on Tamil fishermen and requested him to take up these issues with the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka was on the one hand participating in various Indo-Sri Lanka meetings to resolve fishermen's problems, and on the other “resorting to violence against our fishermen.”

She said that the harassment of fishermen should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka. These attacks on fishermen who eked out a living peacefully in their traditional areas of fishing in the Palk Bay area were similar to the acts of firing across the border by Pakistan and China. Pointing out that there had been as many as 16 incidents of attacks, harassment and apprehension of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan authorities since the AIADMK government assumed office, Ms. Jayalalithaa said there was a uniform pattern of either the Sri Lankan Navy or miscreants from Sri Lanka committing such acts.

“The Indian fishermen, especially belonging to Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram districts, venture out into sea for fishing with the constant fear of being attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy or miscreants.”