Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has asked the Centre to initiate immediate steps to find a permanent and pragmatic solution to the fishermen issue in Palk Bay.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Ms. Jayalalithaa said she was confidently looking forward to early and decisive action by the Centre under his leadership to resolve this long-standing issue.
The right of livelihood of Tamil Nadu fishermen, who historically and traditionally fish in Palk Bay, was continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lankan Navy. And, the unlawful apprehension of the fishermen continued unabated.
On July 5, 20 fishermen from Rameswaram and Mandapam in four mechanised boats were again apprehended by the Lankan Navy and taken to Thalaimannar, Sri Lanka, she pointed out.
The historical rights were simply signed away as part of the ill-advised Indo-Sri Lankan agreements of 1974 and 1976, which also unilaterally ceded Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without having any foresight or concern for the plight of Tamil fishermen, she said.
As already pointed out by her, the two agreements were a subject matter of a writ petition pending in the Supreme Court.
“In this context, the Tamil Nadu government continues to reiterate that the issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line [IMBL] and Katchatheevu can’t be treated as a settled issue.”
Only the retrieval of Katchatheevu would ensure the restoration of safety and security of Tamil fishermen’s livelihood in the traditional waters of Palk Bay, the Chief Minister said, urging the Centre to impress upon the Sri Lankan government to rein in its Navy and to refrain from apprehending innocent fishermen who were in peaceful pursuit of their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters.
Thanking the Prime Minister for his effective intervention that led to the speedy release of 184 fishermen from Sri Lankan custody since the new government took office at the Centre, the Chief Minister sought Mr. Modi’s immediate intervention to secure the release of 37 fishermen and 45 fishing boats currently in the Sri Lankan custody.