Thirteen Indian fishermen belonging to Mayiladuthurai and Pudukottai districts of Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on Monday evening on the charge of crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). With this, the number of fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last three days has gone up to 68. In two separate incidents, it arrested 55 fishermen of Rameswaram and Mandapam on Sunday and seized 19 mechanised trawlers.
Seven fishermen from Mayiladuthurai and six from Pudukottai ventured into the sea on Monday on two mechanised trawlers owned by S. Pradip (28) of Chinnangudi and P. Vasu (48) of Sellanendhal from Jagadapattinam fishing harbour, sources said.
A Sri Lankan naval vessel [some reports suggested it was the Coast Guard] detained them and confiscated two trawlers when they were fishing in the periphery of the IMBL. They were taken to the Jaffna coast for questioning.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Tuesday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, seeking his urgent intervention to secure the release of the fishermen and 75 boats that are in the custody of the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard.
Also read: Sri Lanka arrests 55 Indian fishermen
In the letter, handed over to Mr. Jaishankar by DMK MPs in New Delhi, Mr. Stalin recalled his previous letter to the Minister on Sunday, requesting that the Government of India prevail upon the Sri Lanka Government through diplomatic channels to put an end to the “intimidatory tactics” of its Navy.
“The alarming frequency at which these incidents of apprehension and attacks are happening warrants urgent attention. The lives and livelihoods of our fishermen must be protected when they fish in the traditional waters of Palk Bay,” he said.
Responding to media queries, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said officials from the Consulate General of India, Jaffna, have met the detained fishermen and were providing all necessary support. This included clothes, toiletries, snacks, dry essentials and masks, besides facilitating phone calls to relatives. They were also arranging legal representation.
Expressing concern over the arrests, he said as per information, 68 fishermen and 10 boats have been taken into custody. “In the case of one fisherman who was indisposed, the Indian Consular Officer has visited him in hospital to check on his welfare,” he stated.
The Indian High Commission in Colombo had taken up the issue of early release of the fishermen and boats with the Government of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Jaishankar, who received multiple representations on this issue from political parties, “underlined Government of India’s efforts to secure early release,” he added.