Sri Lankan Navy has arrested six Tamil Nadu fishermen for allegedly fishing near Neduntheevu in the island nation. The president of the fishermen association here, M Emerit, said the arrested fishermen have been taken to Kangesanthurai port there, according to PTI report. They were allegedly fishing near Neduntheevu when they were arrested, the report said. Earlier on March 23, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had voiced concern over the recurring arrests of the state fishermen and their boats by Sri Lankan navy and urged the Centre to take up the matter with Lank in a concrete and decisive manner. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palaniswami sought his intervention and requested him to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with Sri Lankan authorities.
“The repeated incidents of apprehension and non-release of boats cause great frustration among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu”. Deprived of their primary means of livelihood, many families are driven to desperation and despondency”, he said. He urged PM Modi to take up the issue with Sri Lankan authorities at the highest level and ensure immediate release of fishermen and their boats. Eight fishermen have been arrested by the Navy for allegedly fishing in their territorial waters yesterday. Palaniswami sought PM Modi to ensure the release of 26 fishermen and 131 fishing boats currently in the custody of Sri Lanka at the earliest.
On May 2, the Tamil Nadu government had objected to the arrest of five fishermen from the state by Sri Lanka, saying it can only be seen as an act to “derail” the diplomatic bids to resolve the issues pertaining to fishing. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister K Palaniswami raised the April 30 arrests of the five fishermen, hailing from Thangachimadam in Rameswaram, by Lankan navy.
“Such incidents of apprehension of artisanal fishermen who were fishing in a small traditional boat in their customary fishing grounds in Palk Bay can only be seen as an act to derail attempts to sort out the issues relating to the fishing in traditional waters of the Palk Bay through diplomatic efforts of the respective governments,” he said.
It is “unfortunate” that the Sri Lankan government continues to “intimidate” Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu “who eke out their livelihood through the traditional fishing methods,” he added.
The arrests also send out a “demoralising message” to the Tamil Nadu fishermen, Palaniswamy said. He said it is important that the Centre tells Sri Lanka in “firm, clear, unequivocal and unambiguous terms” that these trends have to be reversed and that the Indian government is firmly committed to protect the livelihood of the poor and innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu.