Pointing to the arrest of as many as 16 fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy days ago, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take necessary steps to get them freed and a total of 102 seized fishing boats as well.
Citing the arrest of 16 fishermen and the seizure of their two mechanised fishing boats by the Sri Lankan Navy on March 12, 2023, Stalin, writing to Modi said that the two boats belonged to Nagapattinam and Pudukkottai Districts fishermen.
"This is the third incident of attack/arrest of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan nationals/Navy within a month and as you are aware, these fishermen are solely dependent on their fishing activity for livelihood and such frequent incidents shatter the livelihood of poor fishermen and also create fear psychosis in their mind," he said in a letter on Monday.
In his earlier letters, the CM said he had brought the issue to the notice of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and he had taken up the matter with Lanka. Despite the Centre's initiatives, such incidents continue to take place.
"At this moment, I wish to seek your personal intervention in this regard to ensure that the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen are protected permanently and such incidents do not recur."
As of now, 102 fishing boats of Tamil Nadu are under Lankan custody and six boats released by the neighbouring country "are yet to be repatriated to India."
"Therefore, I request that necessary diplomatic steps may be initiated to secure the early release of all the 16 fishermen and 102 fishing boats that were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy."