Strongly protesting the "abduction" of 49 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to instruct the external affairs ministry to secure their release.
"I request you to instruct the ministry of external affairs to immediately summon the high commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi and lodge the government of India's strong protest against this latest act of illegal and highhanded abduction of such a large number of innocent fishermen in the Palk Bay by the Sri Lankan Navy," she said in a letter to Singh.
The Centre should convey in "no uncertain terms its indignation" at this latest act of abduction of Indian fishermen and" ensure that the Sri Lankan Navy was restrained from making such "unprovoked assaults" on innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu, she said in the strongly-worded letter.
Jayalalithaa said a total of 49 fishermen from Rameswaram of south Tamil Nadu ventured into the seas for fishing onboard 10 mechanised boats on Wednesday.
While 24 of them onboard five boats had been "illegally abducted" by Lankan Navy and taken to Mannar, where they are in custody, the rest of them have been "captured and detained" by the Lankan Navy at KaytsIsland, she said.
Jayalalithaa also said she was shocked to know that one of the boats, which was chased by Lankan Navy, capsized. Five fishermen on board were rescued by their fellow fishermen and reached shores safely.
Recalling her earlier letters to the prime minister on the issue, she said,"(the Lankan Navy) continues with its menacing and predatory acts in the face of pusillanimous responses and apathy by the government of India."
"Things have come to such a pass that fishermen from Tamil Nadu are unable to access their traditional fishing waters for fear of being kidnapped or attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy. The entire fishermen community in Tamil Nadu is agitated, incensed and in a volatile mood," she claimed.
She alleged that the Centre had taken no firm stance in the matter or has exerted little or no diplomatic pressure on the neighbouring Island country to bring about a permanent solution to the problem.
She further requested Singh to "firmly instruct" our diplomats in Sri Lanka to immediately take up the matter with Colombo and secure the immediate release of the 49 fishermen and their boats.