‘Let Sri Lanka not be emboldened by our silence’

Reacting strongly to the arrest of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the last two days by the Sri Lankan navy, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded on Thursday that the island nation’s envoy be summoned urgently to lodge India’s strong protest and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervene to ensure their early release.

“We are agitated by incidents of repeated capture of our fishermen while pursuing their livelihood. We expect the Centre to respond and react pro-actively when incidents of this nature happen. Let Sri Lanka not be emboldened by our silence and construe it as a sign of weakness and indifference towards our fishermen,” she said in a letter to Dr. Singh.

She urged the Prime Minister to advise the Sri Lankan government to release the arrested fishermen without foisting any criminal case and desist from future provocations through needless arrests and acts of violence.

A solution to the fishing disputes between the two neighbouring countries could not be resolved by force or by treating the fishermen as criminals.

Describing the targeting of fishermen in their traditional fishing areas as a worrisome trend, she said that they had no alternative but to fish in the narrow Palk Bay fishing grounds that are further restricted by the International Maritime Boundary Line drawn without the consent of the State’s government or its fishermen.

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