Writes to PM to ensure de-escalation of aggressive posture of Sri Lankan Navy
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up with Sri Lanka attacks on the fishermen and ensure immediate de-escalation of the aggressive posture of its Navy.
Noting that the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay are traditional fishing waters of the fishermen of the southern coast of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Centre should protect the lives of fishermen, avocations and fishing rights.
In a letter to Dr. Singh, she said the Sri Lankan Navy opened fire on a boat carrying six fishermen from Rameswaram on Saturday. “The incident needs to be taken extremely seriously by you, Mr. Prime Minister, before the situation further escalates and more innocent lives are lost,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said. Already, 75 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 35 boats were in Sri Lankan custody, she added.
The six fishermen were in the mechanised boat and fishing near Dhanuskodi around 1.30 p.m. when the Sri Lankan Navy menacingly approached them and without warning indiscriminately opened fire. The fishermen onboard narrowly escaped the bullets, which pierced the wheel house of the boat. The shots damaged the windscreen of the wheel house. Following the attack, they halted the fishing and fled in panic.
Giving details, Ms. Jayalalithaa said it was “unwarranted, ruthless and inhuman attack on innocent fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu who were peacefully pursuing their traditional avocation.” The incident caused “immense outrage and frustration among the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu.”
Notwithstanding the repeated assurances of the Sri Lankan government the recent incident illustrated how lives of fishermen were put in danger by the hostile acts of the Sri Lankan Navy, the Chief Minister said. The presence of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard has also not been a deterrent to the marauding acts of the Navy, she added.