Jayalalithaa wants ‘decisive action’ against Sri Lanka

Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa wants the central government to take “early and decisive action” to end attacks by the Sri Lanka Navy on Indian fishermen.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she urged his government to “initiate immediate efforts to find a permanent and pragmatic solution to this livelihood issue of our fishermen”.

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“I confidently look forward to early and decisive action by the government of India under your leadership to resolve this long-standing issue,” the chief minister said in the letter made public Monday.

Jayalalithaa referred to the Saturday arrest of 20 more fishermen in four mechanised boats from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lanka Navy. She said the fishermen were taken to Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka.

Jayalalithaa said the right of livelihood of fishermen who historically and traditionally fish in the Palk Bay — which divides India and Sri Lanka — was continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lanka Navy.

She described as “ill advised” the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreements of 1974 and 1976 which ceded Katchatheevu island to Colombo without “any foresight or concern for the plight of our innocent fishermen”.

Stressing that the agreements had been challenged in the Supreme Court, Jayalalithaa said the state government “continues to reiterate that the issue of the International Maritime Boundary Line and Katchatheevu cannot be treated as a settled issue.

“Only the retrieval of Katchatheevu will ensure the restoration of safety and security of our fishermen’s livelihood in the traditional waters of Palk Bay,” she said.

The frequent arrest of fishermen from Tamil Nadu in the narrow sea dividing India and Sri Lanka is an emotive issue in the state. The subject has also figured in discussions between New Delhi and Colombo.

Sri Lanka accuses the Indian fishermen of intruding into its waters.