Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday expressed concern over the "alarming frequency" with which Indian fishermen from the state were being harassed allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, and urged that the Centre intervene to ensure the release of 28 such fisherfolk from Lankan custody.
Bringing the latest instance of the arrest of TN fishermen to the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Stalin said 12 of them were arrested on Thursday and two mechanised fishing boats were seized by the Lankan Navy.
"In this year alone, so far 28 fishermen and four fishing boats have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy. It is highly disheartening to note that our fishermen are facing harassment at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy at an alarming frequency," he told the PM in a letter.
"It continues despite several letters of protest sent by government of Tamil Nadu highlighting the escalation in the number of such instances of arrests of our fishermen," Stalin said.
Stating that the arrests and "violent" attacks on Indian fishermen had been continuing unabated despite the government of India's diplomatic initiatives, Stalin urged the Centre to make concerted efforts to "permanently end" the repeated attempts by the Sri Lankan Navy to "infringe upon the historic fishing rights" of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Bay.
"The continuing incidents of incarceration of the fishermen and their boats have created a deep sense of despondency among the fishermen community, as fishing is their only means of livelihood," the CM pointed out.
"As of now 104 fishing boats of Tamil Nadu are in the custody of Sri Lanka and five fishing boats that were released by Sri Lanka are yet to be repatriated to India. Further, 16 Indian fishermen are already in Sri Lankan prisons," he said.
Staling sought Modi's personal intervention in this matter and requested that the authorities concerned be directed to take effective steps to secure the release of all 28 fishermen and their fishing boats detained by the Sri Lankan Navy.