Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Thursday slammed the Centre for not taking a concerted effort to secure the release of fishermen from the state arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy over a period of time and sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to get them freed.
Recalling her previous letters to Mr. Singh on incidents of “brutal” attacks and detention of fishermen from the state by the Lankan Navy, she said there has been no concerted effort by the Centre to secure their release.
“I am sorry to note that despite my repeated writing to you with regard to these incidents of unprovoked assault on Tamil Nadu fishermen and their detention in Sri Lankan jails, there appears to be no concerted effort by Government of India to secure the release of these fishermen”, the Chief Minister said in a letter to Mr. Singh.
She requested him to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take steps and secure the release of 34 fishermen from Ramanathapuram district, arrested recently by the Lankan Navy.
“You will appreciate that these fishermen belong to one of the poorest sections of society, for who prolonged periods of custody in an alien land means loss of daily livelihood. It has a crushing impact on their families who are in agony over their prolonged absence and detention”, she said.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the entire fishermen’s community in Tamil Nadu is agitated over this issue.
One such letter was regarding eight fishermen from Rameswaram — along with two mechanized fishing boats — being apprehended by the Lankan Navy on June 15, remanded to judicial custody, and lodged in Anuradhapura jail till June 27, she said.
“Their remand was further extended up to July 25 and they were shifted to Vavunia prison. Now we have been informed that their remand has further been extended up to August 2”, she said.
Another batch of 21 fishermen from Rameswaram along with five mechanized fishing boats were apprehended by the Lankan Navy on July 6 and produced in a court in Mannar.
“They were lodged in Anuradhapura Jail till July 19. I had written to you regarding this incident on July 8. We are now informed that their remand has been further extended upto August 2. Their boats with implements are under the custody of the Sri Lankan Navy”, she said.
She also recalled her letters to Singh on the arrest and detention of five fishermen from Rameswaram “languishing in Sri Lankan jails for more than 20 months due to a fabricated case.”